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^LI B RAR.Y 

OF THE 
UN IVER5ITY 
or ILLINOIS 



B13 
V.2 




?^4;:V>\*...-4Z: 



ON DANGEROUS GROUND. 

A NO VEL. 



By 



EDITH STEWART DREWRY, 

AUTHOR OF " A DEATH RING," " SWORN FOES," "BAPTISED 
WITH A CURSE," " TWO FLOWERS," ETC., ETC. 



IN Til BEE VOLUMES. 



VOL. II 



LONDON: F. V. WHITE & CO., 
31 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 

18 8 3. 

\^All Rifjhts reserved. ^^ 



F. V. WHITE & CO.'S 
SELECT NOVELS. 

Crown Zvo, cloih, y. 6d. each. 



The following Volumes of the Series are now ready:— 
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat. 

' " My Sister the Actress " is the best novel we have had the pleasure of 
reading Yrom the pen of Miss Marryat.' — yokn Btdl. 

THE DEAN'S WIFE. By Mrs Eiloart. 

' Any reader who wants a good story thoroughly well told cannot do better 
than read " The Dean's Wife." '—John Bull. 

I A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat. 

j ' A really charming story, full of delicate pathos and quiet humour ; 
pleasant to read and pleasant to remember.'— y^i/m Bull. 

TWO MEN AND A MAID. By Harriett Jay. 

' Compared with the former works of the authoress of "The Queen of 
Connaught," this novel must be pronounced second to none.' — GraJ>kic. 

SWEETHEART AND WIFE. By Lady Constance 
Howard. 

'The story from first to last is attractive, and cannot fail to command 
wide favour.' — Whiteliall Review. 

PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat. 

"' Phyllida " is a novel of which the author may be justly proud.' — 
ATorning Post. 

BARBARA'S WARNING. By the Author of ' Recom- 
mended to Mercy.' 



COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



ZXl 




D^lo 




V.l. 




CONTENTS. 




CHAPTER I. 


PAGF. 


TWO FAVOURITES, 


1 


CHAPTER 11. 


* 


A DIAMOND WILL CUT GLASS, . 


1^ 


CHAPTER III. 




HYDRA, .... 


27 


CHAPTER IV. 




MARIUS, .... 


39 


CHAPTER V. 




OVER THEIR FIVE O'CLOCK, 


45 


CHAPTER VI. 




THE FANCY AND THE REALITY, 


52 


CHAPTER VII. 




LEICESTER ALBANY EN VOYAGE NOT ALL 


SMOOTH SAILING, . 


66 


CHAPTER VIII. 




" RECULER POUR MIEUX SAUTER," 


79 



PAGE 



iv Contents. 

CHAPTER IX. 

ANTAGONISM, . . . . . 100 

CHAPTER X. 

GABRIELLE BETRAYS DOUGLAS, . .114 

CHAPTER XI. 

SANDS MAKE THE MOUNTAINS, . .136 

CHAPTER XII. 

MISTRESS AND MAN, . . . . 146 

CHAPTER XIII. 

CHOOSING THE PARTS, . . .154 

CHAPTER XI y. 

CROSS CURRENTS, . . . .170 

CHAPTER XY. 

THE NEW "OLIVIA," .... 180 

CHAPTER XYI. 

CRUMBLING BENEATH THEIR FEET, . .195 

CHAPTER XVII. 

THE BALL — THE PLAY, . . . 201 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE BALL A BUTTERFLY SINGES ITS WINGS, . 219 



ON MNGEEOUS GEOUND. 



CHAPTEK I. 



TWO FAVOURITES. 



^I^P HEEE are some people with whom, 
as they say in South America, 
you may "eat a barrel of salt " 
and not know them, or be less a stranger 
with them at the end than at the begin- 
ning ; there are others au contraire to whom 
we are as unerringly drawn by some subtle 
rapport — some chord of sympathy on which 
a friendship ripens — often too with oppo- 
site natures which cannot count its growth 
VOL. 11. A 



2 Two Favourites. 

and strength by days or weeks. Such was 
the friendship between the two Nevilles 
and the two tenants of the west wing. 
Certainly a singular conjunction of circum- 
stances had combined at the very outset of 
the acquaintance to break down and through 
all the usual barriers which must otherwise 
have stood for some time. And yet it 
would have been hard to find two women 
more dissimilar than Kose Neville and 
Gabrielle Albany. The one was an abso- 
lute embodiment of the words " Peace on 
earth, goodwill towards men," — one of those 
rare beings from whom all evil and tempta- 
tion seem literally to roll away like oil from 
water, to whom, indeed, that which to most 
others was temptation was none to her, 
simply because there was nothing in her 
that met it ; she had the widest sympathies 
of truest philanthropy, deep clinging affec- 
tions, patient, enduring love, — but none of 
those strong passions and masculine forces 
which were the very ebb and flow of that 



Two Favourites, 3 

other nature's tides. Neither could any 
sophistry deceive her, or casuistry blind 
her, for, though if there was any fallacious 
hole in it she might not perhaps be always 
able to intellectually pull it to pieces, her 
singularly intense moral rectitude would go 
straight through and through all the net- 
work to the right thing as unerringly as 
the carrier pigeon comes home ; it was an 
instinct. You might puzzle her reason, 
perhaps, or mentally put her in a fog,, but 
never morally. Many an intellect which 
dwarfed hers, many a schoolman steeped to 
the lips in erudition might have sat with 
advantage, morally — giving the word its- 
widest scope — at the feet of this gentle 
Gamaliel. That was the elder woman ; but 
the younger was the seething volcano, only 
with the outward calm and quiet of proud 
control — none within — fitted to battle with 
the stern world and a weight of trouble 
that would have simply laid Eose in her 
grave. She could not realise, understand, 



4 Two Favourites, 

such a base nature as was presented to her 
in that story of Leicester Albany, though 
she believed it as a fact, because the wife 
stood a living witness before her, but prac- 
tically great wickedness was a myth to her 
comprehensiveness ; she had borne the sor- 
row that had come to her — and who is free? 
— with patient resignation ; the other her 
deadly wrongs with proud, stern endurance. 

So, naturally, the more restful, calmer 
nature was soothing to the passionate, 
troubled soul of the other, and there it 
was the tie grew closer day by day. 

'•I'm so very glad you like Sister Eose 
so much, Gabrielle," Douglas said one day, 
as she sat not far from him at his secretaire 
writing. 

Her pen had stopped, or he had not 
spoken. She looked up with the bright 
smile that came readily at his voice. 

" She is so good," she said, " and I never 
had a woman's friendship before." 

"You would not easily pass the bounds 



Two Favourites. 5 

of society acquaintance," remarked Glen- 
Luna ; " you are proud and reserved." 

Gabrielle paused a moment, and then 
said quietly, — 

" It has been my fault, if fault it is, 
to stand alone. I never made one friend 
amongst the girls at that miserable school. 
I was only just sixteen when I fled from 
them and married ; then I was in the 
whirl of the gayest foreign society, and, 
amongst the women I met more intim- 
ately, there was none I cared for beyond 
mere liking. There was not one amongst 
us, I know, one quarter as good as Eose 
Neville." 

" Except yourself," said Douglas quickly, 
almost impetuously. 

Gabrielle Albany shook her head. 

" No, I was only a girl, only mortal 
woman, not an angel or saint to walk 
unscathed in the flames. The fire burned 
me — certainly embittered, seared me — 
you know that as well as I do." 



6 Two Favourites, 

" You shall not force me to abandon 
my colours, Gabrielle. Perhaps I do know 
that, but no one can knock about, or be 
knocked about, in the world and be as 
unscathed — if a bitter life experience, and 
hardly bought worldly knowledge is neces- 
sarily being' 'scathed' — as those of a quieter 
mould both in nature and life. I declare," 
he said, breaking into a half laugh, "if 
you are always going to compare yourself 
with Sister Kose, to your own detraction, 
I shall be compelled to hate her." 

" Then, you see, I should hate you, 
sir." 

" I am not the least bit afraid that you 
would even try," said he, with all the 
contented impudence of security. 

" I will tell you what, monsieur, I spoil 
you too much, and indulge you in your 
own way." 

"I don't think I get that much from 
you, dear tyrant." 

" Quite as much as is good for you, 



Two Favourites, 7 

especially when you look so very wicked, 
as you do now." 

*' Do I ? Did not your new riding- 
habit come down from town last night ? 
The saddle I ordered has, I know — " 

"Yes." 

" Then, by the saints, I will at last 
have the pleasure of seeing you enjoy a 
ride again ! " exclaimed Douglas. " Please 
do ring the bell, quick, dear Gabrielle, 
and we'll have out the open carriage and 
Hassan." 

He saw her eyes sparkle as she obeyed, 
but, while he gave his orders to the ser- 
vant who appeared, she finished her letter, 
closed it, and addressed it to Lady Glen- 
Luna, who had, in an effusive epistle, 
begged for news of her ** darling boy." 
This happened to exactly suit her clever 
antagonist, and in a reply containing more 
easy, graceful phrases than information — 
for the gifted writer could be either as 
verbose and involved as Mr Gladstone, or 



8 Two Favourites, 

as terse as Latin, according to her will — 
she managed, while speaking of Douglas's 
health and the coming autumn, to convey- 
to Adeline the decided impression that to 
bring down guests would be both dis- 
tasteful and by no means the thing for 
her charge ; all this, without even naming 
Dr Neville, or committing herself, couched 
in a cloud of flowing words, out of which 
Adeline would read — blinded, as Gabrielle 
well reckoned, by her own evil wishes and 
bent — that society would be bad for the 
chance of Douglas's improvement, and dear, 
generous Sir Arthur, read just the other 
way. The letter was a masterpiece of 
diplomatic policy. 

She was not long in dressing, and per- 
haps no costume could have so perfectly 
set off her superb and picturesque beauty 
as the close-fitting habit and graceful 
cavalier hat. Douglas's own beautiful eyes 
gazed on her without any attempt to 
disguise his admiration. 



Two Favourites, g 

" Ma foi/' said he, " Hassan's beauty 
will be well matched ! — you look simply 
superb — if you will forgive me for such 
an open compliment ; you know I told 
you it was second nature, and I could 
not help saying pretty things. I'm in- 
corrigible." 

" I am afraid you are." She wheeled 
the chair up to the couch. ''Are you 
ready, for Harford is at the lift, and the 
carriage at the door ; lean on me." 

" I don't think I shall ever reconcile 
myself to making a leaning-post of such 
a slight thing as you," said Glen-Luna ; 
" but you will scold me, I know, if I call 
Harford, so — " 

He raised himself, laid one hand firmly, 
though not heavily, on her shoulder, and 
so, standing erect for one second, stepped 
into the chair, which Mrs Albany at once 
wheeled out into the corridor and into the 
lift, descending with him herself as usual. 
At the terrace steps stood the elegant open 



lo Two Favourites, 

carriage, in charge of Marston, while another 
groom held Harford's horse and his master's 
magnificent Arab, who testified his instant 
recognition of Douglas, the moment he 
appeared, by a delighted whinny and 
eao-er start forward for the accustomed 
caress. 

"Dear old Hassan," said Douglas, as the 
beautiful animal gently pushed his nose 
into his hand and against his shoulder, 
"you must be a jewel to-day, for you 
have to carry a lady. Oh ! you know 
her again ! Of course you do. Marston, 
has he been out this morning ? " 

"Yes, sir; but still I think that Mrs 
Albany will have to give him a good 
stretch." 

Harford now assisted his master into the 
carriage, and then turned to mount his 
mistress, as he considered and called Gab- 
rielle. It was almost amusing to see the 
absolute ease with which the powerful man 
just put his two hands on her waist and 



Two Favourites, 1 1 

swung her into the saddle. Douglas fairly 
laughed as the courier mounted. 

" Harford makes no more of your weight, 
Mrs Albany, than if you were a kitten. 
Would you mind if we go over to Lang- 
bourne, to the old farrier, and see if my 
other four-footed favourite is ready to come 
home ? I want to introduce you to Angus." 

" I should like it very much," answered 
Gabrielle. **Let go Hassan's head, please, 
James." 

The noble, wild-spirited Arab, who had 
been impatiently tossing his handsome head 
and performing a dance of his own inven- 
tion, sprang forwards with a bound, which 
the rider's strong hand instantly checked, 
and reined him back to the side of the 
carriage, that she might talk to Douglas. 

"•Hassan cannot have his way yet," he 
said, " though, like the rest of us, he likes 
to get it when he can. I wonder why 
everything that has life is fond of following 
its own sweet will, and foi de mon dme ! " 



12 Two Favourites. 

said he, vigorously. " How detestable it is 
to have one's own will seriously crossed ! " 

*'I don't think yours has had much of 
that," said Gabrielle, with a quizzical glance 
that made him laugh. 

" There ! Gro and race off your wickedness 
and Hassan's wildness over that splendid 
upland. I want to see you to advantage." 

" V raiment ! Off then, dear Hassan !" 

Horse and rider were off over the turf at 
a speed which must have unseated any but 
a very perfect rider. 

Douglas watched him intently, and a 
cloud passed over the bright beauty of his 
face — a passionate sweep of bitterest agony, 
the maddening feeling with which the young, 
strong eagle, chained to the beetling rock, 
might watch the circling flight of his free 
brethren. 

He leaned back, setting the small, white 
teeth, clenching the chiselled hands for a 
moment ; but, ah ! me — was that all ? Was 
there no other deeper, if unacknowledged. 



Two Favourites, 1 3 

pain in the depth of that wild heart, as she 
came back to him, with slightly flushed 
cheeks and sparkling eyes, so dazzling in 
her glorious beauty and youth that he 
almost held his breath before he spoke, 
though, in her mere presence, the cloud 
passed. 

" You look ripe for another helter-skelter 
race," he said. "Go off again. Nay ! you 
shall not stop for me ; your pleasure is 
mine ! " 

"And mine, just now," she answered 
brightly, "is to ride here and talk to you, 
and perhaps, if your canine pet is ready to 
return with us, I'll ride a race with him for 
your edification. Is Langbourne far?" 

" Three miles from Doring, down 
river." 

" We shall not be long, then ?" 

^' I wish it were three times as far," said 
Glen -Luna, with a wicked glance that 
pointed the compliment. " Marston ! take 
the road skirting the river banks, Mrs 



14 Two Favourites, 

Albany is as fond of the sight of water as 
lam." 

Marston touched his hat, and, after leav- 
ing the park, turned to the river as desired, 
but the distance proved to be only a half- 
hour's drive, or else, as Douglas declared, 
" pleasant company made time take wings." 

" There is old Dick Hurdle's place, sir," 
said Marston, pulling up his horses before 
the yard gate of an old, straggling, red- 
brick cottage, which a huge board above 
the porch announced to belong to " Eichard 
Hurdle, farrier." 

" He does not seem to be busy," said 
Harford, throwing his bridle over the gate- 
post and dismounting ; but they had been 
both heard and seen, for a girl about twelve 
ran out of the door into the back-yard, call- 
ing out, " Grandfather ! come, quick, and 
bring Angus ! Here's the young master, 
and a beautiful lady on his own horse 1" 

The next moment there was just a glimpse 
of an old man round the corner, and of a 



Two Favourites, 15 

magnificent young collie dog of the largest 
breed; then an absolute, almost human 
shriek of joy, a sudden rush like an aval- 
anche, and the dog had dashed through the 
open gates and leaped with one bound into 
the carriage, his paws on his masters breast, 
licking him all over, whining, quivering 
with such frantic joy and excitement that it 
was some time before even the beloved hand 
and voice could at all calm the poor animal. 

" Now, Angus, dear old boy ! Yes, I 
know well how you love your master, but 
go and speak to Harford and make acquaint- 
ance with your mistress." 

Down leaped Angus, jumped delightedly 
on Harford, pranced round his Arab friend, 
and bounced up to Gabrielle, licking the 
caressing hand she stretched to him, whin- 
ing joyfully at the sweet voice that addressed 
him. 

" You noble beauty ! You dear boy ! 
Oh, Mr Douglas, can't we take him back 
with us ? — his foot must be well ?" 



1 6 Two Favourites. 

" It's quite well now, ma'am, bless ye," 
said old Dick, now coming forwards, " I 
was a-going to send him home this evening, 
sir, but, of course, now you'll take him your- 
self; 'specially as the young lady wants 
him. How's the rest o' the family, sir?" 

" Thanks, Dick, they're all well, and my 
father asked after you, in his last letter 
wasn't it, Mrs Albany?" 

" Yes ; two days ago." 

*' Lord bless him ! How good of him, 
now, to think of old Dick, the farrier," said 
the delighted old man, '' please, sir, to give 
him my humblest duty, and tell him how 
proud I am he should think of me." 

" I'll write on purpose to tell him, Dick," 
returned the young master, " good-bye." 

And the cavalcade swept off, carriage, 
riders, and the dog bounding on before ; 
but presently, in a narrow lane, as the two 
riders were alongside behind the carriage, 
Harford bent towards Gabrielle, and said, 
in a low voice, — 



Two Favourites, 1 7 

"That dog is as wise as we are, Mrs 
Albany. He cannot bear a certain person, 
coax him as she will ; Angus never will 
speak to her." 

" I suppose not," said the other dryly, 
" he loves his master too well to be 
deceived." 

The courier glanced ahead, and then asked, 
in the same undertone, — 

"Do you think, madam, that she will 
bring down guests ?" • 

Mrs Albany looked up straight into his 
face, with a soft little odd laugh. 

" I have written to her, Harford, and 
made the game sure." 

" You are as clever as you are daring, Mrs 
Albany ; you know how to tread both fear- 
lessly and warily on dangerous ground." 

Ay, for his sake ; but oh for the poor, 
brave heart that still was but human. 

Heaven help her 1 There the ground 
was crumbling away from under her, day 
by day, and hour by hour. 

VOL. II. B 




CHAPTEK IL 



"A DIAMOND WILL CUT GLA8S." 



TA scribatur ut etiamsi literse in 
ejus manus incederint offendi 
non possint" is a maxim, and, 
broadly interpreted, a very wise maxim, of 
the Jesuits ; and Gabrielle Albany had taken 
its worldly wisdom to heart early enough 
in her troubled life. She had only put it 
into force once more in that letter which, 
speeding its way through many hands, 
reached its destination the next morning, 
and was found on her plate by Lady Glen- 
Luna when she entered the breakfast-room, 
the first one down. 

"Mrs Albany's writing," she muttered^ 



A Diamond will cut -Glass, 1 9 

with a sort of little purr to herself, 
like a cat who has, or thinks she has, 
caught a mouse. " What a beautiful hand 
it is, though more like a man's than a 
woman's. Now, let us see what are her 
news of her charge. Driving him out, I 
suppose, with those blood-horses. Very 
daring of her ; they might bolt and kill 
them both." 

She opened the letter and read it. How 
thin and sinister her lips looked now, anA 
how coldly steel grey her eyes under the 
arched brows. She puckered them up with 
a somewhat puzzled look, which, however, 
gave place to a sleek, complacent smile 
as she read the letter through again, this 
time slowly, as if weighing every word ; 
then sat with it in her hand cogitating. 

"Yes!" she muttered. "I see exactly 
what she really means and wants. She 
is far too high-bred to wish or attempt 
to dictate to me what is best for her 
charge ; but still it is quite clear to me 



20 A Diamond will cut Glass. 

that she wishes me, and me alone, to read 
between the lines, and understand that 
guests at Luna would fret Douglas very 
seriously. Au meme temps, Madame Gab- 
rielle, you have been a leetle too clever, 
for your hint is so delicately veiled, the 
whole so involved, that anyone might per- 
fectly well understand it quite the other 
way (as I shall certainly choose to do), 
or be in a fog as to what you do mean. 
Chere madame, you are already — ha ! ha ! 
— so deeply anxious for his interests and 
fancies that you are too clever by half. 
/ see fast enough ; but I can and shall 
make of this letter what I like, so that 
you wont suspect me more than you do 
now. I'll fill the house with guests, Lees 
and all, if Arthur likes. I'm not afraid 
of Hyacinth one bit now ; she will never 
be able to rival la magnifique Albany." 
To whose clever wire-pulling she was so 
completely and blindly dancing. 

My lady ! my lady ! If you wish to 



A Diamond will cut Glass, 2 1 

succeed in outdoing Gabrielle Albany, you 
will have to do it by some coup-de-main ! 
Outwit her you never will ; for she, at 
least, knows where the serpent is, if she 
cannot always foresee its next blow. But 
you, in blind serenity, deem you have a 
dupe, where you have the most suspicious, 
most wary, and relentless of antagonists. 
Which, then, is treading on the most dan- 
gerous ground — you, or the noble-hearted 
woman whom, with such ruthless, calculat- 
ing cruelty to both of them, you have 
flung at Douglas Glen-Luna's feet ? 

Steps and voices outside the door, and 
Sir Arthur and Jessie came in together. 

" Letters, my dear ? " said the baronet. 
" Is that from Douglas ? Ah ! no. I see 
it is Mrs Albany's writing ; but I suppose 
it is all about him." 

" Yes, dear. I asked her to let me 
know how they got on, and what they 
did to pass the time. Bead it, both of 
you, and tell me your impression. Mine 



2 2 A Diamond will cut Glass. 

is that she fancies it is rather a mistake 
of us to yield to the dear boy's natural 
shrinking from having guests down." 

Sir Arthur read the letter. Jessie peeping 
over his shoulder, while Lady Glen-Luna 
rang for breakfast. 

" Well, what think you of it, Arthur ? " 
she said, in her pretty, bright way, "if it 
won't harm him," 

" The letter gives me that impression 
entirely, my dear, as much as it says any- 
thing, and, of course, last year he was still 
too ill to bear anything." 

" Oh, papa ! " exclaimed Jessie, eagerly, 
" I'm sure it can't hurt him now if we had 
fifty guests ! It w^ouldn't interfere with 
him. He's got all the west wing and Mrs 
Albany all to himself ! What more can 
he want ? " 

" Hush ! my love," said her mother, re- 
provingly, "it is not what he wants, for he 
is too unselfish to * want ' anything himself, 
but what is best for him ; we must take care 



A Diamond will cut Glass. 23 

of him. It is a load of anxiety off my mind 
that we have providentially secured such a 
devoted attendant as dear Mrs Albany." 

You see this woman was too clever to 
show her darkest cards, even to the daughter 
for whom she schemed. 

Sir Arthur, tapping an egg, smiled and 
asked, — 

" Whom, then, you soft-hearted little 
woman, did you think of asking down ? " 

" Well, dear, I had hardly thought of it 
yet ; but, of course, I know, for instance, 
you would like your old friend's widow and 
daughter, the Lees, asked, and some sports- 
men — Sir George Saltoun and his son, wife, 
and daughter, and, well, I should like to 
ask Mr Brandon, too, as some slight 
return for really saving darling Jessie's 
life." 

" Capital I " exclaimed Sir Arthur ; ** he's 
a most agreeable man, and would enjoy the 
shooting immensely. But then, my dear, 
it seems to me that you will have an over- 



24 A Diamond will cut Glass. 

balance of one sex. You'll want more 
young ladies." 

Adeline laughed, and began tallying off 
on her fingers as merrily as a girl. 

" I don't think so. We shall have, then, 
Percy Eosslyn, young Saltoun, and Clifford 
Brandon. Against that we have Jessie here, 
Hyacinth Lee, and Julia Saltoun, the elders 
making up the party." 

" And a very nice party, too ; only Adie, 
we must try and get handsome Mrs Albany 
to ' show' a little you know." 

" Oh, my dear," returned the little lady, 
with a good-natured laugh, " we shall not 
get her to desert Douglas, depend upon it ! 
And he certainly won't leave the west wing, 
or allow it to be invaded." 

In the latter she was right enough ; in 
the former assertion she was doomed to 
disappointment and vexation of spirit. 

But lest some letter should arrive to 
change Sir Arthur's amenable reading of 
the one received, my lady determined to 



A Diamond will cut Glass. 2 5 

put the matter beyond recall that same day 
by securing the proposed guests, especially 
Clifford Brandon, who she saw was entirely 
epris with Jessie, and to whom, as he was 
rich (that was beyond doubt), well born, 
and the most charming creature, she had no 
objection if Jessie liked him. 

" Certainly," she mused, as she dressed 
for her calls, " I should have preferred a 
title, and perhaps a younger man, but really 
there are just now no titles and money 
together that T could secure for her, and if — 
if — I — fail," she was drawing on her lemon 
kids now, '' I do not want her to flirt through 
another season or two ; men get tired of a girl 
then ; she is passe, I think she can hold her 
own against Hyacinth Lee ; besides, though 
she can flirt, she is, I'm certain, in love with 
Douglas, or why didn't she accept other 
offers ? And then, come worse to worse, I 
could I think, pit Mrs Leicester Albany 
against her. Heaven ! If that woman was 
only unmarried, how dangerous she would 



26 A Diamond will cut Glass. 

be. But you see" — she was apparently 
addressing this salve to her own conscience 
— if she had such an inconvenient article — 
" I was forced to some such step, for I could 
not have again avoided the Lees being asked, 
and the girl would probably have won 
Douglas. NoWy of course, there is no fear. 
Certainly in Gabrielle Albany my good for- 
tune has played me her trump card." 

And down to the carriage tripped that 
" sweet little Lady Glen-Luna." What a 
masque we move in ! 

Ill deeds will rise, 
Though all the world o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes. 

Glass is very hard and sharp, but we all 
know that a diamond will cut it. 



CHAPTER III. 



HYDRA. 




'OW, really, my dear Mrs Orde, 
do just look, upon my word ! 
and they've stopped again at 
those Nevilles' ! " 

Tableau ! Mrs Winstanley and Mrs Doctor 
Orde staring from the former's window 
opposite Cedar Lodge, on the scandalous 
sight presented one day by the stopping of 
Douglas Glen-Luna's elegant open carriage, 
with himself in it, Gabrielle mounted on 
the beautiful Arab, who certainly put his 
daring rider's strength and skill to the test 
sometimes ; and the noble collie, Angus, leap- 
ing in high spirits from one to the other. 



28 Hydra. 

'* I believe she is just an artful, designing 
widow, after all," added Mrs Winstanley, 
" and has thoroughly deceived that sweet, 
innocent Lady Glen-Luna." 

" Widow, indeed, my dear ! " said Mrs 
Orde, who never forgave Mrs Albany for 
sending for the London physician instead 
of her husband. " I really wonder if she 
ever was anybody's wife at all, to begin 
with. Of course, she knows she's very 
handsome and looks superb on that Arab, 
which nobody ever rode but him before site 
must needs choose to treat his favourite 
horses as if they were her own — ugh ! I 
hate those fast, impudent foreign women. 
I think Lady Glen-Luna must be mad to 
have her at all, and those Nevilles must 
be mry queer people" — these ladies dealt 
largely in italics — " to be so intimate already; 
just listen now, she's actually calling to Miss 
Neville in the garden." 

A terrible crime certainly, and only made 
the scandal worse for that beautiful woman 



Hydra. 29 

to wheel her impatient, restless horse, close 
to the pretty gate, and call, in her rich, 
mellow tones, — 

" Sister Eose ! here we are, leave your 
pets a minute." 

For there was sweet Sister Eose in her 
garden, with a broad brown " basin " hat, 
and large apron on, and gardening gloves, 
and big scissors in her hand, cutting, trim- 
ming, petting her flowers, as if they were 
alive. At the sound of wheels, and that 
voice, she lifted herself erect, threw down 
scissors and pruning-knife, and, with her 
sunny smile, came quickly down to the gate, 
pulling off her bemoulded gloves. 

" How good of you both to stop," she said, 
clasping Mrs Albany's hand, and nodded 
brightly to Douglas — "You too, Angus," 
as the collie jumped forepaws upon the gate, 
eager for a caress. " Where have you taken 
her to-day, Mr Douglas ? " 

" Faith, I can hardly tell you Sister Eose, 
or Gabrielle either, for Marston or Harford 



30 Hydra, 

are generally our guides, but we have been 
some fifteen or twenty miles, I believe, eli, 
Harford?" 

" Quite that, sir." 

" And yesterday," added Glen-Luna, " we 
spent the day from nine o'clock till ten at 
nio-ht on the steam-launch ; we ran down to 
Cliveden, which Gabrielle had never seen." 

" That was delightful," said Eose ; '' you 
are taking the best advantage of the fine 
weather." 

" Of which," laughed Douglas, " we get 
such scanty allowance in England." 

" Poor England ! " Sister Eose shook her 
head; " you and Gabrielle are always abusing 
the climate." 

" It only deserves abuse," said he, with 
a wicked, defiant glance ; '* do you know we, 
Gabrielle and I, call the sun ' the English 
stranger ? ' " 

" You are a very bad, ungrateful fellow 
then, and she's as bad," retorted Sister Eose, 
merrily ; " you are both spoiled by being so 



Hydra. 3 1 

much abroad. Have you heard from town 
since you wrote, my dear ? " this to Mrs 
Albany. 

" Only a few lines, but I daresay we shall 
have a letter soon, this evening, perhaps. 
So, Hassan, be quiet ; you are so restless, 
boy." 

" Like his master," muttered Douglas, 
under his moustache ; but she heard him, 
and the shadow that lay in her dark eyes 
deepened. His suffering stabbed her. She 
reined Hassan in closer as Miss Neville 
spoke. 

"I suppose, Mr Douglas, when your people 
return home, they will bring a houseful of 
guests with them, or after them ? " 

Glen - Luna shivered, but answered 
quietly, — 

*' Perhaps they will, and I suppose that I 
shall have to obey my tyrant there. Shall 
w^e see you again soon. Sister Rose ? " 

" I think you must be tired of me — " 

" Of you ! Oh, no ; how dare you hint 



3 2 Hydra. 

such a thing ? You don't deserve any music 
for a month ; so addio till you come." 

So they took leave and were off again, 
the Arab tossing his head and bounding for- 
wards in a manner that did not look as if 
twenty miles had given him much taste for 
his stable, or any idea that his rider's firm 
hand might possibly be tired. 

" There they go," commented Mrs Win- 
stanley ; '* dear me ! How can people be so 
blind ? I dare say he's a perfect slave to 
every caprice. / don't know what the world 
is coming to, I'm sure." 

" I hope he didn't see us, my dear ? " said 
Mrs Orde, in some alarm ; ** I saw him, as 
they drove off, glance this way, and then 
evidently say something to that creature, 
for she laughed. Ugh ! I don't believe the 
woman cares one stone what all Dpring may 
say of her. But her proud scorn will have 
a fall yet, take my word for it, my dear." 

How very Christian we do feel over the 
contemplated judgment so richly deserved 



Hydra, 33 

by some especially inimical sinner. I am 
quite certain that if you could tiave played 
the rtle of Le Diable Boiteu that night, you 
would have found Mrs Doctor Orde in a 
state of fierce righteousness reading the 69th 
Psalm, and thanking God that she was not 
as other men, or women ! 

I really wonder if the ancients symbolised 
scandal by the story of the Hydra. That 
masterly thinker. Lord Bacon, finds a pro- 
found and subtle depth of meaning in most 
of the classic creeds and legends, in which 
the majority of minds read only a graceful 
fable, or at most a surface allegory. Nor, 
I humbly submit, is it fair to those same 
wondrous classics of Greece and Kome, who 
are, after all, the corner-stone of civilisation, 
to say that Bacon's great intellect infused 
its own wisdom into the ancient lore, and 
gave to it a profundity of which its authors 
never dreamed ; rather is it that it takes a 
great mind to thoroughly read a great mind. 

*'Two of the Hydra's heads up there," 

VOL. II. C 



34 Hydra. 

Douglas had said in French, " gossiping our 
heads off, I'll swear." 

At which Albany's wife laughed in scorn- 
ful amusement and haughty disdain. She 
had felt the sharp sting of the scorpion 
itself, and this country town snapping was 
a mere shadow of the reality. She knew 
well that "they talked her head off," for 
scandal reaches us like the air we breathe. 
Did not the very corn spring up and wave 
out the news that King Midas had got ass's 
ears ? It might distress Rose Neville to 
know how those village coteries overhauled 
the doings and inmates of the Hall, but the 
one it most touched cared nothing. She 
had higher, dearer interests at heart, and 
nothing could shake her hold of the standard 
she had grasped in her firm right hand. 

That evening's post brought several letters, 
two of which were for Gabrielle, — one from 
Lady Glen -Luna, the other she saw was 
from good little Mrs May. 

" Dear Mrs Albany and Douglas," began 



Hydra. 3 5 

Adeline, '' I send you a joint epistle, with 
full account of our doings and plans. I 
suppose you will spoil my dear boy by 
reading this aloud while he lies in an atmo- 
sphere of flowers." 

" Ma foi, not so far out, is she 1 " said 
Douglas, lazily, one arm under his head as 
he lay at full length, after so long a drive in 
a more upright position ; " it is not every 
fellow who has the luck to have such a 
reader either, for 

' Like music on the waters 
Is thy sweet voice to me.' " 

" I wonder if you. Sir Knight, could speak 
twenty sentences to a woman without trip- 
ping ofl" a flowery compliment ? " 

" Of course not," said he, coolly, opening 
his great grey eyes wide with the most 
wicked look. " I warned you, my dear 
Gabrielle, that I should have to make all 
the pretty speeches to you, as there was no 
one else, and you gave me leave — " 



36 Hydra, 

" Tres hien, monsieur, but you will have 
others soon to divide favours with me." 

" I don't want any others," he said, with 
a quickness that made her smile, though a 
faint colour had crossed her cheek. 

"Do you know that you said that so 
like a child who hurriedly asserts he is 
quite well the moment mamma talks of 
j)hysic, that I cannot help laughing." 

" Laugh away, sweet Gabrielle, but it is 
physic, for all your sweet coaxing me that 
it is only le premier pas qui coute. Still, 
if you bade me take poison I should do it." 

" Vraiment ! I shall not, I hope, put 
your knightly chivalry to quite such a 
severe test. Perhaps you will listen now 
with due respect to your belle -mere's 
epistle." 

" Don't be sarcastic, fair dame. I am 
all attention. I suppose that little arrant 
coquette of a sister of mine is flirting 
no end with her new beau, Cliff'ord 
Brandon." 



Hydra, 37 

" I dare say," was the serene reply. "I 
see his name." Which came in pretty soon 
amongst the guests whom the writer said 
she had asked for the autumn. "Also 
Lady Constance Lee, and lovely Hyacinth, 
whom you, dear boy, used to admire so 
much." 

"" Of course I did," remarked the " dear 
boy," playing with his soft moustache, and 
his glance still resting, under the long, 
heavy lashes, on the beautiful face before 
him. "She was lovely enough to be 
admired, and charming enough to flirt 
with. We were the best of friends, but 
— I don't care to see her here now." 

^' Fie donc^ Jie done, mon ami!" said 
voice and uplifted finger ; but he laughed. 

" I don't, scold me as you like." 

** You know you deserve it, just for your 
wicked look of rebellion. Listen to the 
rest of the letter, sir, if you please." 

" I'm all attention, madame." 

So he was. The remainder had a good 



^S Hydra. 

deal to say about Mr Brandon, in praise. 
He was handsome, very well born and 
connected, and rich — " 

^*And," supplemented the incorrigible 
Douglas, " the belle-mere thinks he's quite 
a good ][>aTti for Jessie. I wonder who 
or what on earth this Clifford Brandon 
is ! " he said, with a slight change of 
manner. *'I never heard such a name in 
society. The Eosslyns should know cer- 
tainly, but, still — well, we shall see." 

He moved restlessly, and Gabrielle said 
quietly,— 

'' You must not fret yourself about Jessie 
or her possible suitor. Her mother surely 
loves her at least, and will be careful." 

*' She ought to ; I suppose it's all right." 

Still he was disturbed, she saw, and 
quietly putting Mrs May's letter into her 
pocket, went to the piano to charm away 
anxiety with Mendelssohn and Schumann. 




CHAPTEK IV. 

M A R I U S. 

HEN Gabrielle Albany was alone 
in her room that night she 
^M^^ opened Mrs May's letter, which 
began by apologising for not having written 
a month ago, when the man came, and then 
went on to tell her in a very fairly-worded 
detail about the visit of the stranger, not 
omitting the final fillip, " that she believed 
he was nothing better than Mrs Albany's 
scamp of a husband." The little woman 
described him, too, very tolerably, for a 
person of her class ; for the uneducated 
especially fail in the capability of descrip- 
tion. " He was handsome-like, very dark- 



40 Marius, 

ishly disposed, with only a thick moustache, 
and tall, with figure according." 

G-abrielle dropped the letter, and sat with 
her head resting on her hands, dumb, 
motionless, with a strange, dim sense of 
darkness creeping over her, such as one 
feels in a dream, which she could not at 
first define, or lay hold of, or combat. 

Why, in Heaven's name, did Leicester 
want to know where she was ? Was the 
foul lie he told Mrs May the beginning, 
the foundation-stone, of a whole scheme ? 
Did he mean to actually make a desperate 
attempt to shake ofi" the marriage by the 
aid of an appeal to law, w^hich he must 
know would be futile, or did he only want 
to make sure she was well out of his 
way — abroad, perhaps — before he attempted 
to put into execution the plans she was sure 
he had formed, and which she had warned 
him she would foil, at whatever cost to her- 
self? 

To herself — but what if he found her out 



Marius. 41 

here, and drove her away, made them be- 
lieve that she was a wife who had indeed 
broken every vow, and flung honour and 
womanhood from her. Ah me ! Why at the 
thought does she draw such a sudden sharp 
breath, and press both those slender hands 
on her bosom ; will that still the wild throbs 
of the poor passionate heart that has passed 
so insidiously, so completely out of her 
keeping or control ; or crush out such fierce 
agony as even she in all her miserable life 
has never known till now. She cannot, 
does not even try to deceive herself, but 
faces the bitter, terrible truth, as she has 
done every other danger in her gloomy 
path ; she has known it vaguely before this, 
but still, like death, it comes suddenly after 
all. She was only a woman, a passionate, 
noble, loving woman, whose full immeasur- 
able power of love had never been touched 
or reached till now ; till this Douglas, gifted 
with every gift that wins, surrounded with 
every circumstance that must perforce ap- 



42 Marius. 

peal at once to her deepest, tenderest 
sympathy ; thrown even more absolutely 
lately on her care, dependent on her for 
his hope of recovery, even for the safety 
of his life she knew. She had been less, 
or more, than human to resist the sweep- 
ing tide that had set in with such terrible 
force against her. Wring the white hands 
in passionate, voiceless agony ; cover the 
deathlike face in bitterest shame and woe, 
for she knows now that, fight the cruel 
battle outwardly as she may, her very 
heart has betrayed her at last ; that she, 
proud woman, who never loved before, 
wedded wife, God help her ! loves Douglas 
Glen- Luna with all the force and deathless 
faith of her strong impassioned soul. It is 
too late to crush it under foot, she is single- 
handed, weighted too cruelly in the self- 
conflict, for there is not, cannot be, the 
least moral power to aid her in such a 
terrible marriage as that which binds her 
to such a man as Leicester Albany, who had 



Marius. 43 

sold her honour for gold, and held it lightly 
indeed almost from the day he wedded her, 
a child scarcely sixteen. She cannot, will 
not, fly the hourly misery in which there 
lies too unconsciously such a dangerous, 
wild happiness. 

" No," she mutters with stern self-sacri- 
fice ; " come what may I will never leave 
him as long as I am necessary. What 
matters that I sufl'er ! I can dare all, bear 
all, for thee, Douglas — my heart, my one 
only love ! Oh my God ! is this sin ? 
How could I help it ! how could I help 
it ! Help me in this battle ! " 

The poor heart's cry of more than mortal 
agony ! this wild prayer of the pure, loyal 
woman's very soul that shrank in terror 
and horror from the mere shadow of sin 
and dishonour. 

Still self- suppression, guard, control, the 
watchwords of her troubled, tempest-tossed, 
most sorrowful life, scarcely yet counting 
twenty-five years, with all the dreary waste 



44 Marius, 

of heart-broken years stretching away in 
darkness before her, only the wrecks of 
what should have been home and happi- 
ness around her, like Marius amongst the 
desolate ruins of Carthage ; yet still in all, 
through all, this grand, high-souled woman 
never dreamed of surrender to her own 
heart, never, coward-like, asked for one 
moment for death to end her misery, but 
only prayed for strength to still struggle 
against the tide, power to endure unto 
the end in purity as untainted in heart 
as in deed. 

And surely, oh surely, we know that 
such a cry God heareth ; such prayers 
God answereth. 





CHAPTER V. 

OVER THEIR FIVE o'CLOCK. 

WO fair girls lounging " at ease " 
over their five o'clock, sipping 
tea out of the tiniest, most 
dainty pieces of Sevres that could be dis- 
tinguished by the name of cups at all, the 
hat and gloves of one lying on a spider-like 
chair near her ; the other, evidently 
hostess, lazily balancing herself, chair and 
all, as her glance went round the elegant 
boudoir. 

" So Jessie," she said, " we are to be 
amongst your autumn guests this year, 
my mammy says ; how very jolly ! " 
" You are coming, then ; you have 



46 Over their Five d Clock. 

accepted mamma's invitation ? " exclaimed 
Jessie Glen-Luna. 

"Accepted," repeated Hyacinth Lee, open- 
ing wide lier very blue eyes, that had in 
truth given her her name, "of course we have, 
my dear. Who else are coming, Jessie ? " 

" Let me see, not such a very large party, 
because mamma says it might be too much 
for Douglas, though I don't suppose that he 
and his own people will be seen beyond the 
west wing." 

Hyacinth stifled a sigh behind her hand- 
kerchief, and repeated lazily, — 

*' His own people." 

" Yes, of course ; he has everything ex- 
actly as he likes. He has the west wing 
entirely, and his own servants, and Harford 
— you remember his courier ? — and lately 
his secretary, and of course always his own 
carriages and horses." 

" And won't his secretary sometimes make 
his appearance ? " asked Hyacinth, replenish- 
ing her cup. 



Over their Five d Clock. 47 

" He's a shel' cried Jessie, bursting into a 
merry laugh — '' a married lady." 

''- Oh " — Miss Hyacinth's eyes opened wide 
— " poor fellow ! is he consigned to the care 
of some old frump who wears tight caps 
and bonnets of the year 1 ? I'm certain he 
couldn't endure such a creature about him." 

Jessie nearly choked with laughter at the 
absolute opposite this picture was to the 
original, but it instantly popped into her 
head that there might perhaps be some fun 
got out of it, if she kept up the hoax Hya- 
cinth had in fact put upon herself, so she 
said, still laughing, — 

" Well, I dare say he'd prefer a stylish, 
handsome woman of four or five and twenty 
as a companion and sort of nurse when he's 
ill ; but still he and madame are capital 
friends, bonnets and all included. If he 
didn't like her, he could send her away." 

" But you said ' married,' " said Hyacinth, 
a little puzzled by Jessie's manner ; "■ where 
is this Madame Frump's husband ? " 



48 Over their Five d Clock. 

" Oh, she's separated, of course ; treated 
her like a brute, and so she left him some- 
where in California and got a legal separa- 
tion. Mamma found the whole report of 
the case in an old paper some while ago. 
Then you'll see her, I dare say, when you 
come. You asked who else ? " rattled Jessie, 
afraid that her face would betray some joke 
if she did not shelve off the dangerous 
ground. " Well, first and foremost, the 
Saltouns." 

"All four?" 

** Yes, they're all jolly ; and Fred Saltoun 
is such a lady's man. Then there's Percy 
Kosslyn." 

" Pretty dear," put in Hyacinth, her nose 
in the air ; " dances well, though not within 
twenty degrees of what your poor brother 
used to do. Well, who else, dear ? " 

" Oh, why, Mr Brandon," returned Jessie, 
with slightly heightened colour, and the true 
coquette's little toss of the head. 

Hyacinth's eyes twinkled. 



Over their Five 6 Clock. 49 

*' Of course," said she, *' he'll be in the 
seventh heaven. Keally, it was quite a 
romantic meeting. I'm so sick of being in- 
troduced to people ! Aren't you, Jessie ? " 

Jessie nodded. She liked handsome, 
dashing Clifford Brandon to be considered 
the captive of her bow and spear. Certainly 
his attentions to her had been sufficiently 
marked to entitle the little flirt to consider 
him so. I am afraid she was too like her 
mother to be much in love with anybody, 
certainly not beyond a "limited liability" 
sort of way that would not be very heart- 
breaking. 

" And then," she added, " there are some 
capital people about, and even in Doring. 
There is Douglas's physician who was called 
in when the lift broke — Dr Neville, a London 
man — and his sister." 

" Oh, oh," said Miss Hyacinth, signifi- 
cantly, — " young, is she ? " 

" Only fifty, my dear. Oh, Douglas 
couldn't flirt with her." 

VOL. II. D 



50 Over their Five d Clock, 

Hyacinth laughed. 

" I think my mammy is quite right," said 
she ; " it's high time you and I got married 
and settled down. I think you'll be the 
first to set an example, my dear. I'll ask 
Madame Frump's advice when I see 
her." 

" Hem ! " said Jessie, sagely, " I don't 
think she would advise people to marry 
at all. Her own experience has been about 
the worst I ever heard of. Why, her 
wretch of a husband, actually in — California 
— sold her — gambled her away to a fellow, 
and she shot him and escaped. We read 
it in the old paper." 

" Horrible ! " exclaimed Hyacinth, almost 
incredulous ; " but she must surely, then, 
have been pretty when she was young % " 

" I suppose so," Jessie's lip gave again, 
and she rose ; '* but anyhow, whichever 
of us two marries first, the other must be 
bridesmaid." 

" All right. Must you go ? Good-bye. 



Over their Five d Clock, 51 

Don't give Clifford Brandon more than 
three round dances to-night, now." 

And so jesting, the two parted. Neither 
cared especially for the other, but Jessie 
wanted some one to take Saltoun off her 
hands. Hyacinth, however, had her own 
bit of fun in view. 




LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF JIUNOIS 



CHAPTEE YI. 



THE FANCY AND THE REALITY. 




S the florist tends and watches the 
rarest, tenderest, most beautiful 
of his flowers, so Chandos Neville 
watched and tended his most precious 
charge day by day, as the time glided by 
and the end of July came near — watched 
with an anxiety only surpassed by that 
of the woman who loved Douglas Glen- 
Luna. Under their hands he progressed 
steadily, if slowly, and with some fluctua- 
tions, but clever Dr Neville had never in 
his life been more right than when he 
set such absolutely unmeasured store by 
the tireless care and limitless influence of 



The Fancy and the Reality. 53 

the grand-hearted woman without whose 
hourly and intimate mental as well as 
physical co-operation, the physician still 
openly said, his own work would have 
been a very hopeless struggle against head 
wind and strong tide. As it was, he now 
affirmed with quiet confidence that not only 
was his charge gaining strength and tha*" 
vitality on which so much depended, but 
he, the physician, was slowly and surely 
mastering the very core of the actual injury 
done. As to Harford, he told Mrs Albany 
flat that his master was quite another being 
since she had come. 

" Only," he added anxiously, and with 
his characteristic respectful familiarity, '* we 
shall have to be very careful that my lady 
does not find that out, Mrs Albany, or she 
will try to get rid of you." 

Gabrielle Albany looked straight into the 
man's eyes, and said quietly — 

"I think, Harford, that that is beyond 
her power now." 



54 The Fancy and the Reality, 

Harford had paused at tlie open door of 
her sitting-room, near the middle table of 
which she stood. He came right inside the 
room, and said between his teeth, — 

" Pardon me, do you think you quite 
know what a little devil she is ? " 

" I think I do, Harford." 

" Ay, Mrs Albany, but I mean — do you 
know that she would use the weapons which 
only such a woman can use against a 
woman placed as you are here — weapons 
from which even you might well shrink 
and give way ? " 

The blood flushed over her very brow 
for a moment, knowing so well what he 
meant ; it was the tribute sensitive woman- 
hood wrung from the noble strength that 
could endure, suffer, dare all, all for 
Douglas's sake ; but she laid her firm hand, 
that scarcely looked as if it could give 
such an iron grasp, on his arm, and said 
slowly, — 

'* I might, perhaps, shrink ; I am a 



The Fancy and the Reality. 55 

woman, but before Heaven I swear I will 
never give way. If you knew all I have 
gone through, all I have suffered and dared, 
you would not fear my failing now for one 
moment." 

" You are a noble woman, Mrs Albany." 

There was dead silence for a minute, 
then Harford said, with a deep-drawn 
breath, — 

" So they are really coming down on 
Thursday, Mrs Albany?" 

" Yes ; and the first of the guests on 
Saturday, Lady Constance and Miss Lee." 

" Miss Lee — here ! " said the courier 
quickly and suspiciously ; ** what can be 
Lady Glen-Luna s motive ? She used to 
be frightened to death that the master 
would marry Miss Hyacinth Lee ; I know 
she was. I saw through her fast enough, 
and so did Mr Douglas. She thinks the 
danger is past, I suppose, though there 
never was any, I fancy. Mrs Albany, 
when all these people come, do you and 



56 The Fancy and the Reality. 

Dr Neville mean the master to go down 
amongst them actually, or — " 

" Yes, Harford, sometimes, drive with 
them when there is a party going, be in the 
salon in the evening, and so on." 

" But not without you," said Harford, 
eagerly ; " not unless you are with him ? " 

Gabrielle looked up and smiled. 

" No, I shall be with him — in his car- 
riage — in the room. One feels the moment 
she is in the house again as if one must be 
on guard at every point, and suspect her 
every movement." 

*' That's exactly my feeling, Mrs Albany. 
I wish to Heaven we could take him 
abroad." 

Mrs Albany shook her head. 

*'He is not strong enough to bear the 
journey now. The inevitable fatigue and 
jolting would be ruinous at present. In 
another two months, or perhaps even less, 
it might be possible, but not now." 

" Well, of course, madam, you and the 



The Fancy and the Reality. 57 

doctor know best, but I wish she would 
take into her head to go abroad, only I 
don't think Sir Arthur would 2:0 for long;." 

And with that wish Harford withdrew. 

There was another very strong wish in 
the man's heart which he could not utter. 

On the Thursday evening the family came 
down, and you may be sure that the Doring 
coteries had plenty to gossip about over their 
Friday five o'clocks, how they all looked, 
what they had done, whether they would 
" show " at the archery meeting, the cricket 
match, the rifle contest at the new butts, 
how Lady Glen-Luna had driven through 
the town and looked as charming as ever, 
and how, of course, that fast Mrs Albany 
wouldn't be able to have it all quite so 
much her own way, and those Nevilles 
would find they couldn't either ; all of which 
floated to the ears of " those Nevilles," and 
highly amused them. 

"Poor Mrs Albany's great off'ence," said 
the doctor laughing, " appearing to be her 



58 The Fancy and the Reality. 

beauty and graceful aire de grande duchesses 
and the fact that she drives Mr Glen-Luna's 
own favourite horses, rides his own Arabian, 
and comes to church in his own park phae- 
ton attended by his own groom. Ugh, the 
spiteful toads ! it's nothing but jealousy " 
— to which Sister Rose fully agreed — of 
course, if Gabrielle were to care or fret 
herself about these stupid people she had 
better throw up her situation at once, be- 
cause the very essence of it was to be the 
constant attendant and companion of Sir 
Arthur s son. 

The Lees arrived in time for dinner on 
the Saturday, and Jessie, who, as there was 
no one yet to flirt with, thought she might 
as well see the end of her joke, begged her 
mother — whom she had primed — to send 
and ask Mrs Albany to come down that 
evening. But Miss Jessie was doomed not 
to see the result of her joke so soon, for Mrs 
Albany sent back her compliments, but she 
was sorry to say Mr Glen-Luna was not 



The Fancy and the Reality. 59 

quite so well this evening, and she could 
not leave him. A message and fact of 
which Mr Glen-Luna himself was happily 
ignorant, and which Lady Glen-Luna re- 
ceived from Harford with a sigh, and sadly 
breathed, — 

" My poor boy " — that made the courier 
retire biting his lip, half angry, half amused, 
at the hypocrisy that was to him so thin a 
veil. 

The little party in the drawing-room 
broke up early, for Lady Constance and 
Hyacinth were both tired and were glad to 
retire to their rooms. To inquiries about 
Douglas, Adeline only said he was much the 
same, never had seen any one since his 
accident, and she did not think he would 
be induced to do so now ; certainly not yet 
awhile. 

Lovely Hyacinth Lee was the first in the 
breakfast-room the next morning, and, as 
no one was there, and the open French 
window and beautiful grounds without 



6o The Fancy and the Reality. 

looked too tempting to be resisted, the girl 
threw up her pretty head to catch the 
breeze, laden with the sweet scent of flowers 
and river air, and ran out over the lawn 
towards the belt of rich wooding that lay 
beyond, till suddenly she was brought up 
all standing, with a little half-startled cry, 
by an immense collie dog bouncing excitedly 
about her, just, of course, because she was 
dancing along. 

" Angus, you bad dog ! " called a rich 
voice, as clear as a bell, " how dare you be 
so rude, sir ? Come back." 

And as Angus bounded off, out from the 
trees towards the astonished and admiring 
girl came the tall, slight form of the most 
beautiful woman she had ever seen. 

" I hope the dog has not done more 
than startle you ? " she said, courteously, 
as she reached Hyacinth. 

" Oh no, thank you, madame." Hyacinth 
was wondering who this handsome foreigner 
could be. She had heard of no other guest 



The Fancy and the Reality, 6 1 

yet. " I am fond of dogs ; and what a 
beauty he is." 

"Is he not, Miss Lee ? — pardon — I 
guessed who you were, and he is as wild as 
a March hare ; only being three years old 
too, I think Angus is wonderfully good; 
we have just come back from the early 
Celebration at St Agnes's Church, and he 
lies quietly down in the porch till I come 
out." 

" What a darling dog ; Angus you call 
him — for I suppose you are his mistress ? " 

"Well, not exactly; he belongs to Mr 
Glen-Luna," returned Grabrielle. 

" Does he ? Isn't it dreadful that there 
does not seem any chance of his ever getting 
well? His life must be so miserable, so 
dull, so crushed," said Hyacinth, with tears 
in her eyes, " and Jessie says, I understood 
her so in town, that his companion is an 
old frump, who — ah, you are laughing at 
me!" 

"A thousand pardons, Miss Lee, I did 



62 The Fancy and the Reality, 

not know his secretary, or nurse, or what- 
ever they call her, was elderly." 

" Oh, yes, I assure you Jessie Glen-Luna 
said so — that she was an old frump who 
wore bonnets of the year 1." 

"Well, of course Miss Glen-Luna must 
know best," said Mrs Albany, demurely, 
seeing exactly what the joke was, and en- 
joying it, " but I should hardly think * an 
old frump' a very lively or welcome com- 
panion for a young fellow of thirty." 

" No, certainly not, and especially such a 
cavalier fellow as Douglas Glen-Luna always 
was," said Hyacinth ; "I suppose you have 
never seen him, as he sees no one ?." 

"I have seen him very often, though, 
Miss Lee, and his secretary too." 

" Have you, madame ? " Hyacinth's blue 
eyes opened wide. " Then I was right, for 
I thought you were a guest, though Jessie 
said we were the first." 

" I have been stopping here some time 
now," answered Gabrielle, with. Hyacinth 



The Fancy and the Reality, 63 

thought, a rather odd smile; *'you may, 
perhaps, have heard my name — Albany — 
Mrs Leicester Albany." 

**I never have, Mrs Albany, but I am 
most happy to have met you in a manner 
out of the beaten track. Here comes Jessie ! 
Too late for introducing ! Why, Jessie, 
what are you laughing about so much ? " 

For Jessie broke out irresistibly as she 
saw the two together, and now Mrs Albany 
was laughing too. 

" Too late, Jessie ! Miss Lee and I have 
already made acquaintance. Au revoir ! 
Your breakfast bell is ringing, and I must 
go to your brother, who is waiting my re- 
turn. Come, Angus." 

" But — I don't quite — go to — oh, what a 
shame, Jessie ! " exclaimed Hyacinth, with 
a peal of laughter. " Mrs Albany, you 
are the secretary after all ! " 

Mrs Albany swept a low bow. 

" The old frump ! Miss Lee toute 
a vousJ* 



64 The Fancy and the Reality. 

" Oh, it was too bad of you, Jessie, to tell 
me that Mrs Albany — " 

" I didn't tell you, my dear ; you sug- 
gested it, and I only agreed," interrupted 
Jessie, delighted. "Mrs Albany answers 
the description exactly, only in an inverse 
ratio. Yours was the fancy — this lady the 
reality." 

" Pray don't distress yourself. Miss Lee," 
said Gabrielle, " I saw the joke directly, and 
have enjoyed it. May I tell Mr Glen-Luna ? 
It will amuse him ! " 

"Tell him; yes, do. I should think it 
would amuse him, indeed ! Shall I not see 
you again to-day, Mrs. Albany ? " 

" I do not think so, Miss Lee. I live, you 
see, in the west wing, and I seldom leave 
Mr Glen-Luna very long alone. Good-bye 
for the present." 

She shook hands, whistled to Angus, and 
turned off to the west wing. 

" Frump, indeed ! " said Hyacinth ; *' she 
is hardly five-and-twenty, and a woman for 



The Fancy and the Reality. 65 

the men to rave about. Good heaven I Her 
husband must have been a perfect fiend to 
have treated her as you said." 

" Perhaps she was in fault," returned 
Jessie. " She's got a will of her own. She 
was none of the meek wives, I'm certain." 

" So much the better," retorted Hyacinth, 
tossing her head with proper truculence ; 
" if women had compiled the marriage ser- 
vice, I'm thinking the ' obey ' business would 
run the other way. / wouldn't 'obey,' 
forsooth ! " 

" If you were in love, dear, you would 
think it a pleasure," said Jessie, sentimen- 
tally. 

" Bosh ! " returned Miss Hyacinth, in high 
scorn ; " don't be silly, Jessie ; you may 
think men angels, if you like. I don't, and 
I don't suspect Mrs Albany does." 

It would be strange indeed if she had — 
Leicester Albany's wife. 



VOL. II. 



CHAPTEE VII. 

LEICESTER ALBANY EN VOYAGE — NOT ALL 
SMOOTH SAILING. 




^EICESTEE ALBANY was cer- 
tainly a very clever man, and 
a man of very considerable 
resources ; but it is questionable whether 
he would have deliberately gone, knowing 
she was there, into the very house in 
which his wife was. For, although he 
possessed that almost unlimited brazen 
impudence and self-reliant conceit which 
generally characterises men of his stamp, 
he would hardly have walked with open 
eyes on to such dangerous ground ; for 
he feared his wife, despite his defiance — 



Leicester Albany en Voyage, 6 J 

feared her stern threat that she would 
foil him. Still, after what she herself 
declared, how could she possibly prove 
his identity with her husband when she 
had destroyed every likeness, every writing, 
every vestige that could remind her of 
him ? Indeed, if she made the charge at 
any time, he could give to her claim a 
very ugly colouring indeed, which would 
not hurt him, while it would be ruinous 
to her wherever she was. So he flung, 
care to the winds, and made up his mind, 
as he said, to "go in and win." 

Jessie was de facto an heiress, for the 
frail life of a crippled brother was not 
much of an obstacle ; and besides, he 
argued, he could not be too particular as 
to his selection ; quite ready-made heiresses 
were not as plentiful as roses in June, and 
papas and mammas, or guardians of such 
rich ripe fruit, had an uncomfortable way 
of inquiring very closely into the ante- 
cedents and means of suitors, which scrutiny 



68 Leicester Albany en Voyage, 

the soi-disant Mr Clifford Brandon scarcely 
cared to court. Not that his present iden- 
tity was absolutely taken up haphazard. 
Oh dear, no ; he was far too wideawake 
a gentleman for that. He had, in his 
adventurer's life, before his marriage, come 
across, in America, a man of his own age, 
bearing the name of Clifford Brandon, and 
belonging distantly to a good family. This 
young fellow had died in an out-west city, 
and his people, if even they had ever 
seen him, certainly neither knew nor cared 
whether he were living or dead. So that 
now, if his assumed antecedents were chal- 
lenged, he could claim or disclaim, as best 
suited him, connection with the Brandons 
of — shire. 

Another reason for selecting Jessie as 
the heiress for his scheme was the footing 
his good luck had given him, and that 
he soon saw that she was one of those 
sentimental flirts who, if he could get her 
to fall in love with him (not a hard task 



Leicester Albany en Voyage. 69 

either, as her falling in love went), he 
could persuade her to elope, perhaps, if 
mamrna frowned when it came to the pro- 
posal, or if his own wronged and haughty 
wife " crossed his tracks," as he expressed 
it. And then Jessie was really such a 
deuced pretty, charming little thing, that 
it was no such bad prospect. Few men 
knew better than Leicester Albany exactly 
how to play his cards with the ordinary 
run of women, especially flirts. It was 
such a woman as Gabrielle who puzzled — 
posed — him. To Jessie he had, while in 
town, paid just that happy mean of atten- 
tion which, while suifering her to feel that 
he was ej^ris, was not sufficiently marked 
overtly to attract undue notice from the 
society in which they moved, though 
club and five o'clock gossip credited Cliff". 
Brandon with being a very decided admirer 
of "little Jessie Glen-Luna," and no one 
was surprised when it was understood that 
he joined the circle at Luna Park the 



7o Leicester Albany en Voyage, 

Monday after the family had returned 
there. 

The statement with which he had come 
into the magic ring called " society " was 
strictly true. An aunt had left him a 
fortune, but it belonged to the past — not 
the present. He had come into a large 
fortune in money from this aunt at twenty- 
one ; by the time he was thirty, when he 
saw, fell in love with, and married young 
Gabrielle Morville, he had squandered fully 
half the fortune, and the rest followed in 
the next seven years. He best knew how 
he had got the money on which he was 
now playing so bold a game to reinstate 
himself again, but that he had obtained 
a good supply, and had so managed that 
his resources would stand a fair investi- 
gation from papa Glen-Luna, and even the 
farce of a settlement is certain. It is 
astonishing what we can do if we only 
completely throw aside that tiresome " ob- 
structive " conscience. And certainly our 



Leicester Albany en Voyage. 71 

very worthy friend had none of that. At 
the core, the man was a heartless roue, 
under the outward gloss, a gladiator capable 
of almost any deed which passion or inter- 
est made expedient. Is it a wonder that 
to such a man his hapless wife had declared 
that she would not, even if she could, set 
him free to wreck another life as he had hers. 

He was to have gone down in time for 
luncheon, but somehow missed it — men are 
sometimes unpunctual as well as women — 
and so he lunched at the station, and went 
down by the next train, that reached Doring 
about five. 

No carriage from the Hall was waiting, 
but when the porter saw the name and 
address on the luggage he informed its 
owner that a groom with the dogcart had 
been to meet the other train, and had left a 
message that he should meet this one. 

" He's only a little mistook the time, sir," 
added the man, " and if you'd please wait 
a few minutes he can't be long." 



72 Leicester Albany en Voyage, 

" Thanks," answered Albany, " but, as it 
is such a lovely day and country, I will 
walk on, and the dogcart can transport my 
portmanteau." 

The porter directed him to the park, and 
he left the station at an easy pace, lighting 
a cigar as he went. 

He soon found his way into the broad 
Doring road, from which he got a glimpse 
of the river, and on the other side, through 
and over the hedges, lovely bits of that 
extremity of Luna Park ; not that Leicester 
Albany appreciated either, though he often 
affected an admiration for scenery and trees. 

He had walked some little way, and had 
begun to wonder where the road turning off 
to the gates was, when he heard the roll of 
— ^unmistakably — carriage wheels and tramp 
of horses' feet coming on behind, and, turn- 
ing, saw a cloud of dust. 

" Confound it," muttered Albany, "what 
an awful dust ! " 

He stepped on to the grass, and drew 



Leicester Albany en Voyage, 73 

right back against tlie liedge to windward 
of the cloud, and the next minute an 
immense collie dog dashed past him, then 
an elegant low phaeton, drawn by the most 
magnificent pair of chesnut horses, all silver 
harnessed, that he had ever seen ; driven, 
too, by a lady who sat beside a young man, 
half reclining amongst a pile of crimson 
cushions. His face was turned the other 
way, and, if not, Albany would not have 
seen it, for his gaze, startled but exultant, 
was riveted on the driver, as the equipage, 
followed by a mounted attendant, swept 
past. 

*• By Heaven ! have I caught you out 
at last, my immaculate wife ! " he muttered, 
stepping out to watch the retreating car- 
riage — ''ma parole! — kept in style, too, 
while you're about it. Down here, some- 
how, too. Jove ! that's dangerous ; I must 
find you out and see what's to be done ; ha ! 
my scornful wife, where is your standpoint 
now ? " 



74 Leicester Albany en Voyage, 

He walked on again, and in a few minutes 
perceived an old hedger, just shouldering 
his tools to leave his work. The old man 
touched his hat to the gentleman, as is the 
courteous fashion of the peasantry, and 
Albany stopped. 

'* Good evening, friend. Did you see 
that carriage pass just now ? " 

" Lord sir, yes," answered the old man, 
in a slightly amused tone ; " they're out 
driving and riding. Madame rides near 
every day. Them's the master's pet blood 
horses, sir, and young madame rides his 
own Arabian, which is as handsome as her- 
self, bless her." 

A fierce thrill of jealousy shot through 
the man's evil soul. He had flung away 
the flower himself, but he could not bear 
to think that another had gathered it. 

" Indeed ! " he said, with an irrepressible 
sneer, " and who or what is madame and 
the master ? " 

The truth never struck him; so had he 



Leicester Albany en Voyage, 75 

got it into his head that Sir Arthur's son 
was a miserable cripple. 

The old man stared. To him it argued 
extraordinary ignorance not to know who 
" the master " was. 

" Why, sir, the master is the master — 
Mr Douglas Glen-Luna — and madame is 
Mrs Albany, his secretary. My lady and 
all trusts everything to her. Ah ! she is 
the sweetest young lady, sir." 

" The devil ! " came between Leicester's 
set teeth, and for a moment trees, and road, 
and sky above seemed as a mist before his 
eyes, so completely was he taken aback by 
the discovery that the very last woman he 
would have had near him now was actually 
under the same roof to which he was going ; 
his ready wit and thought were completely 
staggered, and it was a minute before the 
livid lips could even frame a question. 

" I suppose, then, that this Mrs Albany 
dines with the family — is treated quite 
like a friend ? " 



"j^ Leicester Albany en Voyage. 

" Lord, yes, sir ; ye see, sir, I often 
works in the garden, 'cause the head 
gardener knows I'm past heavy work, 
and he gives me a job, and that's how 
I hear a deal about the Hall gentry. 
Mrs Albany ain't with the family much, 
though, 'cause she lives in the left wing 
along with the rest of Mr Douglas's people. 
He lives there, ye see, sir, and she's 
always with him — no one else." 

" But, my good man, I understood that 
Mr Glen-Luna was so nearly crushed in 
the accident, — that he was a mere wreck." 

" Did ye, sir ? Dear, dear, only to think 
now. Well, then, he's the most sound 
bi-eautifulest 'wreck' as ever I see." 

" And," added Albany, " that he was 
dying by inches ? " 

" God forbid, sir ! He may be, in 
course ; I ain't no scholard, and can't say 
positive, but I never heerd that. It'd 
break the old gentleman's heart to lose 
him." 



Leicester Albany en Voyage. 77 

" I suppose so, the only son. And has 
this Mrs Albany been with him long ? " 

"She came in May, sir." 

"A widow, eh ? " 

" No, sir ; the gardener telled me she was 
separated from her husband." 

'* Indeed ; and she doesn't, you say, leave 
Mr Glen-Luna ? — doesn't, for instance, come 
into the drawing-room in the evening ? " 

" I don't fancy she do, sir ; but, in 
course, I couldn't say. It's certain sure 
she wouldn't be there long, 'cause she 
belongs to the master's service, ye see, 
sir." 

Albany had got as much as he could 
out of the old hedger, so he gave him a 
shilling, and walked on. 

Good heaven ! What should he do now ? 
What step must he take ? Had she seen 
him, and already told her companion who 
he was ? What if she met him unan- 
nounced, unexpectedly, in the house, before 
others, and at once unmasked him ? He 



78 Leicester Albany en Voyage, 

must get a line, only a line, to her some 
way ; but how, before night ? 

" The devil is in it ! " he said aloud, with 
a savage stamp of his foot. " I must find 
out more when I reach the Hall, and if 
she does show at all I must retire with a 
headache. Get a letter to her I must. 
Curse her ! " 

Curses come home to roost, Mr Leicester 
Albany. 




CHAPTER VIIL 



RECULER POUR MIEUX SAUTER. 




F ever a man felt himself to be 
walking on dangerous ground 
now, that man was Leicester 
Albany ; for although, as he walked 
slowly on, he matured a scheme of war- 
fare which he was certain must ensure his 
young wife's silence, yet, with all his 
unlimited self-assurance, there yet remained 
in the background of his mind's picture 
of safety an uncomfortable, vague, night- 
mare sort of feeling that, win as he might 
for the time, the woman who had stood 
uncorrupted against his foulest vices — the 
darkest temptations with which he had 



8o '' Reculer pour Mieux SauterJ' 

surrounded her — would somehow in the 
end make good her stern menace. 

'*Do what you will, I will foil you ! " 

To turn back now would be to lose the 
game before it was fairly begun, and such 
a retreat never entered into his head. It 
would be all right if he could get hold 
of her before she saw him. Even then 
he must write so that the note would not 
identify him as her husband, which now 
it was his whole cue to deny. 

" And I do believe," he muttered, " that 
I have got a blank envelope in my pocket- 
book. What luck ; I'll look for it, so 
that part of the business is easy." 

He stopped and looked into the pocket 
of his handsome pocket-book. Yes, there 
it was ; or rather, they, for he found two 
blank envelopes. One glance at his watch, 
and Leicester Albany seated himself on the 
bank by the roadside, wrote something in 
pencil, carefully disguising his handwriting, 
on a leaf of the book, tore it out, enclosed 



^^Reculer pour Mieux Sauter." 8i 

it, and in the same hand addressed it — 

"Mrs Albany, care of Mrs May, 

Street, W.C." Then he rubbed the letter 
in the dust till it looked shady enough, 
and, putting it into his pocket with a 
smile of triumph, proceeded on his way. 

His arrival at the Hall completed the 
invited guests, for Percy Eosslyn and the 
Saltouns had arrived by luncheon time. 

" I shall scold the groom well for being 
so late at the station, my dear Brandon," 
said Sir Arthur, as the latest guest ap- 
peared in the drawing-room before dinner. 

" Oh ! no, you really must not," returned 
Albany ; '' especially as it not only gave me 
a delightful walk, but has, I believe, enabled 
me to be the means of restoring some pro- 
perty to a lady ; that is," glancing inquir- 
ingly at Jessie, near whom he was standing, 
*' if any of you know whether in this neigh- 
bourhood there is anyone named Albany, 
I picked up a letter addressed — see, here 
it is ! " 

VOL. II. P 



82 '' Reculer pour Mieux Sauter!' 

"Why," exclaimed Jessie, "Mrs Albany 
is my brother's secretary! That address is 
where she lodged, isn't it, mamma? She 
must have dropped it out. She was driving 
with Douglas this afternoon." 

" Shall I send it to her, Mr Brandon ? " 
sweetly asked her ladyship, completely 
hoaxed and unsuspicious, with her hand 
on the bell. 

"Thank you, dear Lady Glen-Luna, I 
hope the lady has not yet discovered her 
loss." 

Here a footman noiselessly entered, and 
received the soiled letter and a message. 

" Lady Glen-Luna's compliments, and she 
thought Mrs Albany must have dropped her 
letter while driving, as one of the gentlemen 
found it on his way to the Hall. 

Was there to be no rest or peace for 
Gabrielle Albany ! 

She had just completed dressing for din- 
ner, and came into her own boudoir, when 
the message and letter were given her. 



"Reculer pour Mieux Sauter^ 83 

The blood seemed to rush back on her 
very heart, even as the long taper fingers 
took the dusty envelope. There was no 
definite thought or* suspicion, but simply 
she knew at once that cramped odd hand 
— in pencil too — was utterly strange to her, 
and that she never had had, and therefore 
never had dropped, such a letter. 

"Thank you, James." How calmly she 
spoke — even carelessly. "It is only an old 
letter, but still, carry my compliments and, 
thanks to the gentleman. Which of them 
was it ? " 

" I think, madam, it was Mr Brandon 
who gave my lady the letter," James 
answered, and retired. 

Gabrielle stood for a minute, with locked 
hands and breath drawn almost in gasps. 
She saw at once what this letter — sent 
under so cunning a subterfuge — really was, 
and knew that the man to whom so heavy a 
chain bound her had dared to put in force 
a scheme which three words of hers could 



84 ^^Reculer pour Mieux Sauterr 

shatter like glass. Merciful Heaven ! and 
this villain was under the same roof as her- 
self, and worse — ten thousand times worse 
— under the same roof as the man whose 
life was dearer to her than her own, dearer 
than all, save honour. Oh, how thankful 
she was that this letter had not been given 
under his keen glance, as she broke it open 
and read — in that hand which she never 
could have proved to be Albany's. 

" I saw you drive past to-day, and I must 
see you alone to-night ; till then keep silence 
if you value life and honour. I will wait in 
view of the west wing terrace till I see you 
come out, and then follow to whatever spot 
you lead the way." 

If at that moment the writer of that 
letter had stood before her, and a weapon 
lain within her reach. Heaven only knows 
what might have happened ; and yet, save 
that she lifted her hands above her head, as 
if in mute agony of passionate appeal, there 
was little outward sign of the tempest within 



'' Reculer pour Mietix SauterT 85 

— such a tempest as, if yielded to for one 
moment, must have swept down all control 
and left traces which could not have escaped 
the notice of Douglas Glen-Luna. Must 
she ever crush heart and passion, and bitter 
agony ! Could honour, brain, and soul for 
ever bear the cruel pressure of this fierce 
self- suppression, self- warfare ! Was there 
sin in the very strength that came to her 
now, disloyalty at heart in the voiceless, 
passionate cry that went up — " For his 
sake ! God ! for his sake I must, I wilf, 
bear all ! dare all — even to the charge of 
dishonour ! " Truly, if there was, the sin 
lay on the head of the man who had broken 
every vow, every bond, every moral tie that 
bound him. 

It was easy for her to steal out when all 
the house was still, and at rest, but to meet 
him quite alone never even entered her 
head. Faithful, and when required, most 
formidable, Angus was, by design on the part 
of his master's two attendants, left to sleep 



86 '^ Reenter pour Mieux Sauter." 

loose in the salon, with the door of the 
corridor open, so that to take him with her 
was as easy as to creep out herself. She 
was safe enough, she knew, under such 
guardianship. It crossed her how her 
husband — a stranger to the mansion — 
would get out and in undiscovered ; and, 
in fact, that difficulty had occurred to him- 
self, until shown his room to dress for 
dinner, on his arrival, and there he found 
that a strong trellis, covered with roses out- 
side the window, would make a ready means 
of egress and ingress. 

It was an intensely still, dark night, 
with scarce a breath of air to stir one leaf 
of the stately forest trees which towered 
in the gloom, like some monsters of a 
dream, as Leicester Albany stole under the 
shadow like the guilty thing he was, and 
so skirted round to a sheltered spot which 
commanded a full view of the west wing, 
now as darkened as the rest of the massive 
pile of building. 



^' Reculer pour Miezix Sauter!' Z^ 

Did the man's thoughts go back nine 
years, as he stood there in the ghostly 
midnight hour ? Did memory recall a 
bitter, dark, dreary winter s morning, when 
he had waited under the gloomy school 
wall with all a lover's impatience for his 
mistress, all the roue's eager passion for 
his newest toy, for the beautiful child 
almost, barely sixteen, with whom he was 
then so madly in love ? Did he remember 
how, that morning, after the Church had 
made that child his wedded wife for evei*, 
he had held her in his arms and taken 
Heaven to witness that his love and care 
should never fail ? And how had he kept 
that vow through all the long seven years 
she had lived with him ? Did not one flash 
of remorse or compunction stir him now, 
as he stood there, bent on using the foulest 
weapon man can use against a woman ? 
No, not once ; his soul was a chaos of evil 
passions, hate, and fear, and even a flash 
now and again of his old base passion to 



88 ^^ Reculer pour Mieux Sauter'^ 

make fuel for the fierce jealousy whicli ran / 
through all. / 

Watching like a tiger for its prey, hej 
presently saw a dark robed figure com^ 
suddenly — it seemed from he knew not 
where — on to the terrace, and pause, one 
hand holding a huge dog by a short chain. 

Albany started, with a savage muttered 
oath. ' 

" What the devil does the girl bring that 
beast for ! I am her husband, after all — 
curse the folly that made me so ! " 

But, for all his angry fear of the dog, 
he followed the dark figure as it flitted 
on like a ghost through the gloom towards 
the thicket of trees just in the boundary 
between the gardens and the park. 

Under those Gabrielle stopped, and stood 
as white, as still, as beautiful as a classic 
statue, till he drew near. Then Angus 
suddenly crouched, as if to spring, with 
such a savage growl and menacing show 
of white teeth, that Albany started back. 



^' Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 89 

" Hold that damned beast in fast," he 
said between his teeth, " for if he touches 
me I'll throttle him." 

" I advise you," she said coolly, " not to 
so much as offer to even touch him or his 
mistress ; for in the moment you do so I 
will drop the chain I hold, and he would pull 
you down like a reed. Do you think I 
should be mad enough to meet you — you, 
Leicester Albany — in this lonely spot at 
midnight alone ? Quiet, Angus ; you must 
wait my word, if it is needed. For you*, 
speak at once and quickly, for I have 
already held my peace too long ; but to- 
morrow they shall all know who and what 
they have in their house. I will unmask 
the fine hawk they take for such a dove." 

" And," said Leicester, folding his arms 
on his broad breast, and looking her full 
in the face with those bold, insolent black 
eyes, "in so doing blast yourself." 

** Ay ! " she answered with bitter scorn, 
*' by avowing myself the wife of such a 



90 '' Reenter pour Mieux Sauter^ 

thing as you ; but more than that is 
beyond your power. You cannot, dare 
not, deny our marriage ; for I have the 
certificate." 

Albany laughed in sneering triumph. 

" You are welcome to show it ! You 
have the certificate of your marriage with 
Leicester Albany ; but — where is he f " 

" Where is he ? " Gabrielle repeated, 
slowly, and her hand closed suddenly on 
the dog's silver chain ; " standing before me 
just now. Creeping into a noble house on 
a false identity, to steal its daughter's 
honour and peace. I know you, my 
husband." 

" By the Lord ! but I'll show you di- 
rectly that you don't yet, though you are 
beautiful enough to make a fellow glad to 
claim you in one way, if he can't in another. 
Look you ! you fled from Leicester Albany 
in 'Frisco two years ago. You came here ; 
got a separation ex parte ; destroyed every 
line or likeness or vestige of your husband. 



^^ Reenter pour Mieux Sauter^ 91 

Those were your own words, you re- 
member." 

Ay ! too well. The miserable woman 
saw at once the terrible mistake, the fatal 
admission, she had made ; but, though the 
very blood seemed to freeze to ice in her 
veins, she never lost her haughty, unflinch- 
ing front. 

"Go on ! " she said, with stern brevity ; 
but her free hand was pressed against her 
bosom now. 

" There is no one in England," Albany- 
went on, deliberately, " and none that 
you know of anywhere, who could or would 
prove my identity. Whereas (for I did 
not assume a mask haphazard, be sure) I 
can very readily prove myself to be Clifford 
Brandon. You threaten to go to Sir Arthur 
and Lady Glen-Luna and strip that mask. 
Oest a dire — you will swear that I am your 
scamp of a husband, Leicester Albany." 

'' I will swear to the truth," she answered, 
in the same stern way. " I warned you 



92 ^^ Reculer pour Mieux S aider! 

that, if you tried this dastard scheme, I 
would foil you, at whatever cost." 

'' Ah fa ! — at whatever cost ; but what if 
that cost were such hopeless disgrace to 
yourself that you lost this, no doubt," with a 
cruel sneer, " particularly pleasant, happy 
berth ? Mr Douglas Glen -Luna would, of 
course, feel the loss of his fair companion so 
terribly that — " 

" Keep to your point, you coward," she 
broke in, with so fierce an accent and gesture 
that Angus uttered another savage menace, 
" and dare not to name with your shameful 
lips a man who is to you as light is to the 
very darkness of Hades. Keep to your 
point." 

The dog had crouched down again at his 
mistress's feet, laying his muzzle along be- 
tween his paws, with his large, watchful 
brown eyes fixed steadily on the enemy. 
Leicester drew back a step, with almost a 
shudder of deadly fear ; but he answered 
Gabrielle at once. 



'' Reenter potir Mieux Sauter^ 93 

" I repeat, you would hardly like to lose 
the singular situation you hold here ; but I 
have no particular wish to cross your plea- 
sure, if you are content to let me go mine 
undisturbed. If you will exercise that very 
clever brain of yours, you will see that, 
having destroyed every letter, likeness, 
paper — en Jin, every proof of my identity, 
your threatened expose and claim to me as 
your husband rests solely on your unsup- 
ported word or oath. You cannot prove me 
to be other that what I appear — Clifford 
Brandon." 

^' Two of the family, at least," she said, as 
he paused, " will take my word before 
yours. Of course, you will deny the charge. 
I expected that." 

" I will do more than that," he answered, 
coming a step nearer, and dropping each 
word one by one. " As surely as you tell 
them who I am, so surely I swear — and if 
ever man kept his oath I will keep this ! I 
have arranged the whole story so as to fit — 



94 ''Redder pour Mieux Sauter.'' 

that you, Gabrielle Albany, had claimed me 
for the husband you knew to be really dead, 
since, because finding you here, I, Clifford 
Brandon, told you I would tell them what 
you really were. I will swear that you had 
been my mistress ! " 

There was a silence after those last words 
— dead, awful silence. She never moved 
one hair's- breadth, or spoke or breathed ; but 
stood there, looking at him — looking, look- 
ing, with strange, dread, wide-open gaze in 
the great dark eyes, as if she had looked 
last on some awful thing of horror, and 
died there where she stood — thought, 
powers, the very scorn and tempest of 
passions itself seemed stilled before this 
last fell outrage, as the war of the wild 
elements is sometimes subdued by the 
wilder raging of the battle. 

" My God ! Is this shape of humanity 
before me man born of woman, or — devil 
incarnate ! " 

The passionate words came, awed and 



"Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 95 

hushed, under her breath ; and she put one 
beautiful hand before her eyes, as if to shut 
out some sight too pitiably painful to look 
upon. From far off up the river came the 
ceaseless music of the falling waters over 
the weir, and nearer once or twice the 
rustle of a leaf as some night bird fluttered 
from bough to bough, and a little whispering 
breeze stole like some ghost or avenging 
spirit through the lofty trees ; it seemed as 
if the very pall of night had lowered darker 
yet over the sleeping world. 

Leicester moved uneasily. He could 
better have borne, better have met, a blaze 
of passion — a fierce blast of scorn and wrath. 
But this, this hurled him to an unmeasur- 
able depth beneath passion or scorn ; it 
scathed him like fire, and to break the 
spell, he spoke, slowly, as before, watching 
her. 

*' You know now what I will do ; and 
more, I leave it to your quick wits and 
imagination to foresee all I will add and 



96 '' Reculer pour Mieux Sauter^ 

suggest, in the peculiar and anomalous 
position you hold to the heir of Glen- 
Luna." 

Ah ! there is that helpless charge, that 
one being so dependent on her, whose re- 
covery lay fully half in her hands, whose life 
she knew^ too terribly was under her guardian- 
ship, whom she had sworn before Heaven 
not to leave, come what might ; whom, try 
to crush it as she would, because she was 
another man's loyal wife, she loved — in 
him, Douglas Glen-Luna, lay at once her 
strength and her weakness, her power to 
bear and temporise even now ; and, like 
Achilles's foot, her one vulnerable point. 

In that silence the vital force of her 
masculine mind, the noble power of her 
woman's heart, had regained its steadfast 
strength to meet and grasp the whole posi- 
tion. She saw at once that this once, at 
least at present, her husband was master of 
the dangerous ground on which both stood, 
that she was beaten back, and must yield 



*^ Reculer pour Mieux SauterT 97 

outwardly once and for all. Aut fer, aut 
feri. She could not strike yet. She must 
bear till she could, for the sake of that one 
being so loved and so helpless ! 

"Well," said Leicester Albany, *' which 
is it to be — peace or war ? Are we two, 
Mrs Albany and Clifford Brandon, to meet 
in this house as strangers — or, sometime 
protector and mistress ? " 

She turned upon him now with such 
fierce passion and pitiless, withering scorfl 
that the man actually recoiled. 

" If the mother who bore you could have 
foreseen this night she would surely have 
hushed you to death on her breast, as I 
would the child I bore you if God in His 
mercy had not spared me such stern duty ! 
If she had lived to see this hour, she must 
have cursed the hour that gave you birth, 
as I do the first moment you saw this 
miserable beauty of mine. Go your way. 
We are strangers here, but God of Justice 
above," she said, lifting her hand, upraised 

VOL. II. G 



gS ^^ Reculer pour Mieux Sautery 

like some avenging prophetess of old, " hear 
me, this man's most wronged, most miser- 
able wife, call down upon his head Thy just 
vengeance of his deeds ! " 

" Gabrielle ! " 

The dog sprang to his feet with an 
absolute howl of ferocity at that excla- 
mation, and reared up so suddenly, so 
furious to leap on the man that, had the 
hand that grasped the chain been less 
strong, or the command, " Down, dear 
Angus ! " less firm, Albany's chance of life 
had been but slight. He started back as 
his wife drew the noble animal closer to her 
side, and said with livid lips, — 

" If that cursed brute means to fly like 
that, I warn you and your precious Douglas 
to keep in your own rooms." 

" I warn you," said Gabrielle, with a stern 
menace that shook him, " that if harm comes 
to either dog or master, neither your secret 
nor your life shall be safe for one hour. Lay 
that well to heart, Leicester Albany." 



** Reculer pour Mieux Sauter" 99 

She turned and glided away swiftly under 
the trees, and mistress and dog were lost in 
the gloom. 

" But she is beaten this time, by Heaven!" 
muttered Albany, moving slowly forward ; 
** she is forced to yield at last, with all her 
proud scorn." 

Was she ? fool and blind guide ! you for- 
get the old wise saw, — " Reculer pour mieux 
sauter." 




CHAPTEK IX. 



ANTAGONISM. 




RAIN and heart racked, a fitful, 
restless sleep that was the very 
opposite of rest, and that ter- 
rible waking with a dull, heavy sense of 
anguish and weight which most of us have 
experienced at some period — the feeling 
that the day was to be got through, not 
lived — that was Gabrielle Albany's awaken- 
ing to another day, a most painful position 
to maintain, a most difficult part to act out. 
And yet, the moment she entered Douglas 
Glen-Luna's presence, she seemed to pass at 
once into another, brighter atmosphere, as 
from darkness to light. But she noticed 
that he was restless, unquiet, and when pre- 



A ntagonis7n, i o I 

sently the sound of many voices came wafted 
in from the lovely gardens without, he turned 
his curly head sharply from the window with 
a quick, half-smothered — 

" I cannot. I cannot ! " 

A soft, firm hand on his shoulder, whose 
touch vibrated along every chord of his 
being. 

" Not even for your autocrat ? " said the 
low, rich tones. 

" Oh, Gabrielle, if you only knew how 
I dread it ! " • 

" Don't I know ? Don't I realise your 
feelings as much as if I were a man my- 
self ? " she answered, with a force all the 
more intense from its suppression. " Don't 
I exactly feel with you, for you ? Only 
I know, all the more from your dread of 
the very first step, how necessary it is that 
the cordon of morbid sufiering should be 
broken through once and for all. I know, 
too, that it is the first break through which 
is the worst, or, rather, that once faced it 



I o 2 A ntagonism. 

will prove half a shadow. It was no sin or 
fault of yours, but an accident, and that 
too, because you lost your chance of safety 
to save a human life." 

He turned his head to kiss the white 
hand that lay on his shoulder, and lift dark 
penitent eyes to hers. 

" Dear Gabrielle, forgive your wayward 
scapegrace charge, for the hundredth time 
I cry peccavi." 

" I suppose you must be forgiven," said 
Mrs Albany, smiling. " Ah, there is Miss 
Lee's sweet voice again ; what a lovely girl 
she is. Now confess that you will be glad 
to have a second recipient for your pretty 
speeches." 

She had moved a little as she spoke to 
pick a few of the rare flowers that scented 
the air, and it was well that she did not see 
the sudden flash in those dark eyes, or the 
instant look of intense agony, the fierce 
setting of the curved lips, and quick clench- 
ing of the chiselled hand that followed. 



A ntagonism, 1 03 



Then he laughed a little and san 



'& 



g- 



'* ' There be none of Beauty's daughters 
With a magic like thee, 
And like music on the waters 
Is thy sweet voice to me.'| 

" I won't confess to anything but that, 
especially as I mean it, and I am sure I 
deserve that exquisite little button- hole you 
have been gathering on purpose for me 
as a reward — " 

** For what, I wonder ? Your wicked- 
ness ? " Gabrielle said lightly, as she bent 
down to fasten the flowers in his button- 
hole ; *' but I'll forgive you this time." 

" Which is more than I deserve, your 
tone says. I don't believe I shall really 
make my peace with you until I have 
passed the Eubicon and meet some of 
these people." 

" I am going to fetch your hat and mine, 
and we will go out into the grounds. You 
can trust me not to leave you to thei 



I04 Antagonism, 

tender mercies," she added, smiling, as 
she left the room, ringing for Harford as 
she went. 

For one moment Douglas Glen-Luna 
covered his eyes with his hand. 

" Oh Gabrielle, my heart, my love ! it 
is too late for me — only to save honour — 
only to keep the secret locked here in this 
heart. I dare not, ca?inot send thee from 
me into the wide, harsh world again, God 
help me ! I can bear all, suffer all, for 
thee, and make no sign." 

Ah me ! but the heart is still only human ; 
can he guard every look, every throb, 
almost every movement ! The prayer had 
gone up with all the deep earnestness of 
a noble faith, a spotless honour, that would 
not wrong her honour — another man's wife 
— or his by one breath, one passing thought, 
and surely, surely such prayers for help 
against dire temptation are heard ! 

There were no traces of emotion when 
she came back ; but, as she wheeled his 



A ntagonism. 105 

chair to the lift, he said, with his ever 
bright smile — for was not her mere presence 
happiness, despite the suffering beneath ? — 

" It has crossed me often, Gabrielle, how 
odd it would be if ever I were to meet 
again that man I saved in the accident." 

They were descending in the lift now, as 
she asked, — 

" You would know him again, then ? " 

** Oh, yes ; he got into the train as I 
did at Dover. I remember, too, that I did 
not like his face, though he was certaiijy 
handsome. Here we are, safe at the bottom 
— thanks, Harford — and here is Angus 
waiting for us." 

The collie bounded on through the open 
hall door, and Gabrielle wheeled the chair 
on to the terrace. 

Douglas drew a breath of relief ; no one 
was in sight from that point, nor did any 
sound of voices reach their ears. 

" They all seem to have disappeared," 
said Mrs Albany, quietly pushing the chair 



I o6 A ntagontsm, 

before her down the incline from the marble 
terrace to the lawn, " but I suppose they 
have scattered." 

How inexpressibly she dreaded the first 
meeting with her disguised husband, before 
Glen-Luna's keen eyes, she only knew, but 
it was Albany's powers of acting she dis- 
trusted, not her own. 

" Would you like to stop here ? " she 
said, arresting the chair at a beautiful spot 
just below the wide lawn, from which a 
full view of the river spread before them. 

" If you like it, I do, chere Gabrielle, a 
lady's wish is law — Ha ! what is the matter, 
Angus ? " — he interrupted himself suddenly, 
as Jessie's clear treble, answered by a man's 
deep tones coming on behind, caught their 
ears, and the dog uttered that peculiar low, 
deep growl which seems to vibrate on 
the very air — " there is some one near 
whom he dislikes ! who is it with Jessie, 
Gabrielle ? " 

She had flushed and grown ashen white 



Antagoms7n. 107 

for a second as she stood behind him, but 
she answered low and quickly— 

" Hush, I don't know ; they are too near 
to look round. Lie down, Angus." 

Was the faithful animars true instinct 
going to betray his mistress ? She shivered 
as she saw his master's glance bent suspici- 
ously on the dog, who lay exactly as he 
had done last night at her feet, with 
his nose between his paws and his eyes, 
watchful. 

" Whoever it is," said Douglas under 
his breath, ''he has seen him before, I'll 
swear." 

Before Gabrielle could reply, Jessie and 
her companion came up. 

" Douglas, may I ? — Mr Clifford Brandon 
— my brother — and his secretary, Mrs 
Albany." 

The moment Douglas's eyes rested on the 
guest a quick look of recognition flashed 
into their depths, while Leicester started, 
even violently, with an exclamation. 



I o8 A ntagonism, 

" Good Heaven ! I cannot be mistaken ! 
You were my fellow-traveller eighteen 
months ago, and saved my life at the 
cost—" 

Glen - Luna interrupted him with a 
haughty flush on his bronzed cheek, but 
courteous words, — 

" Pardon me. Let that pass, Mr 
Brandon ; it is strange that we should 
meet again. I recognised you directly." 

Gabrielle had seen that, and her hand 
had closed with a fierce grip on the handle 
of the chair, and her teeth set like a vice. 
Was it for this worthless life that one so 
precious had been well nigh wrecked ? 
"Why had he not let this dastard — her 
husband — die ? It so maddened the wild, 
passionate heart to know this that she 
had almost stretched forth her right hand 
and denounced him for what he was, only 
for the one paramount sake of the man she 
loved. Jessie's voice roused her to the 
present, — 



A ntagonism. 1 09 

** It is odd, and so delightful ! Just like 
a romance, isn't it, Mrs Albany ? " 

Mrs Albany's haughty lip curled, but she 
only said, dryly, — 

"There is more romance and tragedy, 
too, in real life than any romance can 
tell. Where is Miss Lee ? I heard her 
voice." 

" I don't know. She ran in for some- 
thing, and so Mr Brandon and I strolled 
on till, you know, we saw you. Douglas, 
do make that horrid dog be quiet. What 
is he growling at ? " 

" I am afraid, my dear, he is rude enough 
to growl at a guest. Be silent, Angus, like 
a good dog." The collie leaped up eagerly, 
and began licking the hand stretched to 
him. " Angus, Mr Brandon, is, I am 
ashamed to say, capricious, but perhaps he 
will make friends when he knows you 
better. Perhaps you are not fond of 
dogs ? " 

" I cannot say that I am, Mr Glen-Luna, 



no Antagonism, 

and so, of course, dogs would not like me ; 
but I suppose this one is good tempered % " 

" A splendid temper ; only, like most 
of us, lie lias a will of liis own, and his own 
likes and dislikes ; he is very ungallant, too, 
for he will not speak to Lady Glen-Luna, 
coax him as she will." 

"Then Angus shows very bad taste," 
said Albany, glancing antagonistically at 
the dog. " Shall you join the party this 
afternoon, Mr Glen-Luna ? I believe we 
are all to go over to somewhere and see 
a cricket match." 

" Oh, yes, do ! " exclaimed Jessie, clapping 
her hands like a gleeful child. She knew 
that the r61e of ingenue suited her, and 
" took " with men of Clifford Brandon s age. 

" No," answered Douglas, quietly, and 
with an inward shrinking which Gabrielle's 
subtle sympathy felt ; *' I do not think I 
shall." 

" And I think," added his attendant, 
urbanely, " that if we may be excused now 



Antagonism. 1 1 1 

we had better go on as you wished, Mr 
Glen-Luna." 

"Thanks; good-bye, Jessie; Mr Brandon, 
adieu for the present ; you will excuse us, 
I am sure." 

Albany bowed low, giving his beautiful 
wife such a look as he turned away. 
Jealousy may go with hate and fear, as 
well as with passion, far better than with 
love ; and in that covert look there was 
both hate, and fear, and jealousy. She met 
it steadily — in proud contempt. That look 
was nothing new to the roue's hapless wife. 
She only bowed coldly, and wheeled the 
light chair away. 

" Quite away, dear Gabrielle," said 
Douglas, shivering ; "I cannot bear more 
of them yet, even because you wish it ! " 

" I do not wish it just yet." Her soft 
hand touched him gently. " What do you 
think of this Mr Brandon ? " 

Douglas leaned right back, so that he 
could look up into her face. 



112 Antag07iism. 

"As Angus does, and — as you do. I 
don't like his face on that second, any more 
than on the first seeing ; there is some- 
thing entirely repellant and antagonistic to 
me in the man." 

" So there is to me," said Albany's wife, 
quietly ; "I should not like to see any one 
I cared for his wife, I think." 

" No," said Douglas, strongly ; " and if 
he is doing more than flirt with Jessie 
I shall speak to my father ; they are all 
• — by their letters — so taken with him. 
By the saints ! I am almost tempted to 
the wicked wish that I had never saved 
his life." 

" I would to Heaven you had not," she 
said, between her teeth. '' You have paid 
too heavy a cost if — if," she added recover- 
ing herself, " face is any indication to a 
mans life." 

"It is an indication there, most decidedly," 
said Glen-Luna ; "I don't like him, and 
never shall ; and, I am certain, no woman 



Antagonism. 113 

like you ever would. Am I not right, 
Gabrielle?" 

" Yes." 

How much language there may be in a 
single word ! What a story lay in that 
quiet '' yes ! " 




VOL. II. H 



CHAPTEE X. 



GABRIELLE BETRAYS DOUGLAS. 




amongst 



H bon comme 9a/ as they say in 
New Orleans !" said Douglas, 
settling himself contentedly 
the rich, soft cushions of the 
phaeton that afternoon ; " I think one ordeal 
is enough for one day. I'm quite happy 
here, driving, with only my dear autocrat 
for a companion." 

She had the high-spirited chesnuts well 
in hand as they drove at a good pace through 
the park, Harford, as usual, riding a little 
ahead. She looked down with an odd smile 
quivering on her lips as Douglas spoke, and 
said, — 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 1 5 

" One may have too much of even a good 
thing, you know. I think you would, in 
time, tire of me, if you had no other 
society." 

She spoke half in jest, half in earnest, but 
not a tinge of coquetry in either ; it was not 
in the woman. 

" Wicked Gabrielle ! you must think me 
very fickle — or at least changeable, if that 
is a milder word." 

''An contraire. I know you are the very 
opposite of fickle — the entire reverse of 
changeable, both in your likes and dislikes." 

" Thanks for such a good character, and 
yet you assert that I shall get tired of you, 
of all people under the sun." 

" Why not, mon ami f " turning, with her 
winning smile. " I did not say that aufond 
you would like me or my company less, 
but that in time you would tire of having 
nothing else — no other society to make a 
change, a variation from mine." 

" Well," said he, complacently, " I have 



1 1 6 Gabi'ielle betrays Douglas, 

tried the experiment now for nearly three 
months, and I feel still calmly contented to 
try it as long as I am, — what I am now, 
except — " 

'' Except what % " 

" That you will tire of me, Gabrielle." 

Her hand tightened on the reins, and the 
dark eyes looked out steadily before her as 
she answered, — 

" I shall not tire of you. The question 
or position so reversed is not synonymous." 

" Comment f " 

" Is it likely I should weary of kindness, 
of a home, of honour safely sheltered ? " 

She was unconscious of the stress on the 
" I " — of the suppressed, always suppressed 
— passion and pathos in her low tones and 
manner, but it made the man's heart beat 
and the wild blood leap in his veins, and it 
was full a minute before he could answer, 
before he dared trust himself to speak. 

" Forgive me, Gabrielle, I would not wound 
you for worlds." 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 117 

" You never have ; you could not," she 
interposed, a little hurriedly ; " it is memory 
that stings and wounds, not you. I am 
happy here." 

Gold then deeply alloyed, happiness only 
in his presence, in the present, on the merest 
surface of the ground that was hecatombed 
with suffering and danger, for which there 
was no future, only a dreary waste of years 
hard to face at twenty-five. And hers was 
not one of the lighter natures that can simply 
sun itself in the present hour and shut tts 
eyes to the future, any more than Douglas 
could. 

Neither spoke until they had passed out 
of the park by a gate from which three 
roads soon diverged. Harford glanced back 
a telegraphic inquiry to his mistress, received 
a decided little nod, and the courier rode on 
up the middle of the three roads, the car- 
riage following, its fair driver remarking 
carelessly, — 

" Harford said this was a pretty road by 



1 1 8 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

which we can get round to the river side 
above the lock ; we have not come out this 
way yet either." 

" I don't think we have, but, whether or 
no, your wish is law," was the gallant reply, 
at which Gabrielle laughed. PerhajDS he 
would scold her in a little while, but she 
kept up a lively conversation that beguiled 
the way and chained his attention to her- 
self ; no hard task, certainly, for a woman 
so young and beautiful and brilliant, and 
that, though she knew it not, the woman he 
loved. What wonder that those dark eyes 
watched the ever changing play of the 
mobile face at his side, and took little 
heed of where she drove or the scenes 
around, or of the sound of voices once or 
twice borne on the breeze, till suddenly a 
corner in the lane was turned. Harford 
had thrown wide a five-barred gate, and 
standing erect to see well before her, Gab- 
rielle drove through and reined up her 
horses in style. 



Gabriel le betrays Douglas, 1 1 9 

*' Gabrielle ! you wicked thing ! to play 
me such a trick ! " 

" Ahmea culpa ! forgive me the betrayal. 
See what a pretty sight it is." 

So it was, for they were in the large 
cricket-field of which Jessie had spoken in 
the morning ; there were the players dot- 
ting the field, for the game was at its 
height ; the white tents and gay flags, the 
carriages and varied vehicles drawn up not 
far off, and the crowd of spectators ; the 
elite gathered a little to the right of Gfen- 
Luna's cortege, the rest variously disposed 
— all gaily dressed, of course, for it was the 
grand match between the County Eleven 
and the Langbourne Club, and everybody 
had turned out, from the county mag- 
nates to the peasant, all just now watch- 
ing the play with too intent an interest 
to notice the addition to the company 
present. 

Douglas had for one moment flushed 
painfully as his quick eye singled out the 



1 20 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

party from Luna Hall, but he answered 
Mrs Albany, — 

" I believe you and Harford planned this 
between you." 

" Add Dr Neville, who first told me of 
the match, and I will confess my fault 
frankly," she said, looking down on him 
as she still stood. "You will forgive me, 
and try " — (this with a soft pleading tone) 
— " to enjoy the scene and society." 

" I will try, for your sake. Ha ! what 
a splendid hit ! this way, too, Gabrielle ; 
take care ! " 

Straight off the bat, with the velocity 
and force of a cannon shot, came the ball, 
as if it had been aimed at that slight erect 
figure which in that second only Glen- 
Luna's lightning quickness and dexterity 
saved from the fatal blow. Every eye fol- 
lowed that splendid hit — saw instantly the 
danger in its flight — every one, breathless, 
saw Douglas start forward, his right hand 
only, it seemed, touched the ball, spun it 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 2 i 

upwards straight as an arrow, caught it 
again as it fell, and deftly threw it up to 
long-off as he ran forwards. , 

There was a ringing cheer from the spec- 
tators as Douglas leaned back again beside 
Gabrielle, who had instantly resumed her 
seat ; many there recognised him at once, 
many more guessed who he was, but almost 
before he could answer Gabrielle's anxious 
" You are hurt " with a " No, all is well," 
the phaeton was surrounded, besieged by 
the Hall party, all with but one note* — 
delighted meeting, heartiest welcome and 
pleasure to see Douglas Glen-Luna amongst 
them again — such a Babel of tongues that 
at first it was difficult for either him or Sir 
Arthur or Adeline to introduce Mrs Albany. 

" It's so awfully jolly to see you again, 
old boy, you know," said Percy Kosslyn, who 
had started and muttered, "By Jove !, the 
Vienna beauty," when he saw Douglas's com- 
panion, *' and I have had the honour of seeing 
you nearly two years ago, Mrs Albany." 



12 2 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

" Indeed, Mr Rosslyn, where was that ? " 

" At the opera in Vienna," and there he 
drew back as Hyacinth Lee, who had not 
at first approached, came up, with frank 
hand held out to hand as frank. 

" Miss Lee, how glad I am to see you 
again ! " 

" The pleasure is reciprocal, then, Mr Glen- 
Luna," Hyacinth answered, brightly and 
earnestly; "and isn't it jolly, Mrs Albany, 
to see an old friend's face ? And no one, 
I believe, would have seen you for a long 
time but for that splendid catch. You will 
stop, won't you, till the stumps are drawn, 
and drive back with the rest of us, in a 
troup % Do make him, Mrs Albany." 

Gabrielle laughed a little. 

" My dear Miss Lee, you evidently think 
he is like the chesnuts — held well in hand." 

" Pf course he is, Mrs Albany," returned 
saucy, laughing Hyacinth, "■ and it's only 
what men are good for — to hear and obey." 

"A pleasant task when beauty gives the 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 123 

order,'"' said courtly Douglas, bowing his 
handsome head, with a wicked glance from 
Gabrielle to Hyacinth, and the other young 
man laughed, and cried " Oh." 

'* You've not let your silver tongue grow 
rusty for want of use," said Percy Eosslyn, 
glancing at Mrs Albany. 

*' It has only improved by keeping, my 
son," retorted Glen-Luna. 

" Like good wine," added young Saltoun ; 
" but I don't suppose you let your compli- 
mentary powers grow rusty for want* of 
use," with a bow to Mrs Albany which 
pointed his own compliment. " Ah, there 
are some more new comers in a victoria." 

Both Douglas and Mrs Albany looked 
round, and the former instantly beckoned 
with a glad exclamation that made Hyacinth 
look up quickly — 

" Neville and his sister ! " 

As the mellow, flute-like tones rang out, 
Hyacinth Lee looked up to meet the 
smiling gaze of a pair of bright hazel eyes, 



124 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

the handsome owner of which was the 
next minute introduced to her by Douglas, 
as " his old friend, Miss Lee." 

" Not a very old friend, I should think," 
said Chandos Neville, bending low to the 
lovely girl before him, " unless we put 
friendship beyond the reckoning of dates 
and years." 

" Of course we do, Dr Neville," said she, 
laughingly, " we count our likes and dislikes 
by their worth, don't we ? " 

" The worth of a dislike," repeated the 
physician, " what does Mrs Albany say to 
that, eh?" 

" I beg your pardon, Dr Neville," — 
Gabrielle had been speaking to Eose. 

" Why, Miss Lee speaks of * the worth 
of dislike.' Is there anything of worth in 
dislike, do you think ? " 

" I suppose there may be, if the dislike 
is thoroughly deserved," answered Albany's 
wife ; and then Douglas interposed, to 
present the new-comers to those who were 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 125 

gathered about the carriage, the centre of 
attraction — with its two brilliant occupants. 
But presently, when a splendid hit had 
again called the general attention to the 
field, and the party had dropped into 
groups, Neville gave Mrs Albany a glance 
and, touching Douglas, said, gently — 

" I saw that catch, and I am afraid you 
have hurt yourself a little ; ten weeks ago 
such a movement would have made you 
swoon with pain. Are you hurt ? " 

" I don't think so, I couldn't help *it if 
I were," was the quick low answer, " the 
ball would have killed her. I am all 
right, indeed, Neville ; it may have tired 
me. 

" Yes, you are getting a little fatigued, 
I think," said the physician ; " I suppose," 
wdth a smile, " you have a nice scolding 
in store for Mrs Albany when you get her 
all to yourself again." 

''Ah, foil if I can manage it," said 
Douglas, " which is very doubtful ; was no:^ 



126 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

she wicked to betray me here, like that ? 
I never expected that from you, Gabri- 
elle." 

"• Et tu Brute ! " laughed his beautiful 
companion, " your reproach touches me to 
the heart, I assure you, monsieur ; only you 
must also scold Dr Neville and Harford, for 
both were in the plot." 

" So I suppose ; I'm a very ill-used being, 
I think, but I won'.t scold you till we get 
home, my dear tyrant." 

" I do not think your scolding will hurt 
her, my dear," remarked Sister Rose, and at 
that moment Lady Glen-Luna came up 
again, on Leicester Albany's arm. 

" Douglas, you must really join us all in 
the drawing-room this evening ! Now you 
have once broken the ice, dear, we are not 
going to spare you, or you either, of course, 
dear Mrs Albany." 

"Dear" Mrs Albany shook her curly 
head with the softest of apologetic smiles. 

" You will kindly excuse us this evening, 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 127 

I am sure, Lady Glen-Luna ; further fatigue 
would be too much, I think." 

" Douglas, do you hear that decree ? Do, 
please, rescind it." 

" Rank treason, Adeline," said Glen-Luna, 
lazily ; " I'm too loyal a subject to dream of 
disputing the royal decree." 

" Bad boy ! Mr Brandon, will you try 
your powers of persuasion ? " 

"The task of the Danaeides, madam, 
when my poor powers are to be matched 
against those of Mrs Albany," answered 
Leicester, bowing, but she had turned to 
speak to Sister Rose, calling her attention 
with an amused smile, to a group of ladies 
at a safe distance. 

" Your opposite neighbour and her coterie," 
she said ; " haven't they been enjoying a 
nice scandalmongering ? " 

Which was true enough, from the moment 
the elegant phaeton had entered the field, 
and Douglas's clever catch had drawn atten- 
tion to it. 



128 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

'' Eeally," said Mrs Orde, " that woman's 
impudence gets worse and worse ! He never 
was seen anywhere, and now she makes him 
come right amongst everybody, driving in 
like that, at his side, as if she was — Dear 
me, the face some women have ! He's quite 
her slave. Miss Chattaway." 

" Disgraceful, I call it, dear Mrs Orde ; 
and just see how the men have gathered 
around her, laughing and flirting ; her 
friend and charge will be jealous." 

*' Of course, just what she wants, I dare- 
say," put in Mrs Winstanley. "Who is 
that lovely girl talking to him ? Madame 
won't like that, I fancy. I cannot think 
what Lady Glen-Luna ^as about to have 
that Mrs Albany. Just look, too, how el- 
egantly — ex-quisitely she's dressed ; if she 
means to persuade me that her salary paid 
for all that, why, I simply don't believe it ; 
that plume in her hat alone never cost less 
than two or three guineas." 

So it had, but it was one her husband 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 129 

had given her five years ago, for even to 
the last she had held some sway over the 
man by no effort of her own— the sway of 
her beauty— nothing higher or deeper. 

"I suspect," said charitable Mrs Orde, 
dropping her eyeglass, "that she knew 
Glen-Luna long before his accident ; he was 
no saint, of course,— young men never are, 
— and you may depend upon it, down here 
isn't the first time madam has sat at his 
side behind those restive chesnuts ! Ugh ! 
don't tell me." 

Since the good lady was so sensitive, it 
did not exactly appear what she was not to 
be told, but as she ceased, she was utterly 
startled by hearing a sweet voice say be- 
hind her, with particular distinctness, to 
some one, — 

"Don't theologians presume that the 
Serpent had many legs, Julia? But I 
think that the horrid vipers about here 
have two left out of the many, making up 
the odds with very forked tongues." 
VOL. II. I 



130 Gabr telle betrays Douglas. 

There was a suppressed little laugh in 
reply, and then Mrs Orde, not daring to 
turn, saw pass slowly by two young ladies 
of the Hall party, one, the " lovely girl " 
who had talked to Douglas. 

" Very ordinary specimens, too, dear, of 
the anguis scandaloria ruralis/' added Miss 
Hyacinth, with brows elevated, and wide- 
open blue eyes of innocence, looking through 
the " specimen." I don't know whether 
I've got the Latin order, and all that, cor- 
rectly, but in the vernacular we call it 
hacJc-hiters.'^ 

Julia Saltoun's laughter bubbled over at 
sight of the face a backward glance gave to 
her view, and Hyacinth, her pretty chin 
still in the air, her fair cheeks still flushed, 
said viciously, — 

" There 1 they've had the truth for once, 
detestable old cats ! " 

*' Oh, Hyacinth ! suppose they know Lady 
Glen-Luna ! " whispered Julia. 

" Not they, my dear ! and, if they do, 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 1 3 1 

still more shame to dare say so much of a 
lady living under Lady Glen-Luna's roof 
and protection." 

" Quite right, but still — it would be 
rather awkward for you to meet them." 

" They're not Hall visitors, Julia, and if 
they were I should meet them with un- 
ruffled serenity," returned Miss Hyacinth, 
carrying herself all erect ; " it's a good thing 
Mrs Albany is far too proud and sensible 
a woman to care a bit for such vile 
gossips." 

" Do you think she knows it, Hyacinth ? " 

They were moving back towards the 
carriage. 

" Of course she does. She breathes the 
air, doesn't she, and those creatures fill the 
air with their scandal ; her beauty is her 
offence." 

"They'll set you down as a rude, fast- 
tongued hussy," laughed Julia. 

*' Of course, and cut me up too ; unless 
some one tells 'em, ' Oh, that's the heiress, 



132 Gabr telle betrays Douglas. 

Miss Lee, of Leesfolly,' and then the rude 
set down will be, 'Such charming eccentricity, 
so original ; ugh ! the toads," concluded Miss 
Hyacinth. " Ask Mrs Albany to sing you 
the parody on the old French chanson. 
I heard her humming it on Sunday," 
"What is it?" 

" O'est I'argent, I'argent, I'argent 
Qui fait tourner le monde," 

sang Hyacinth — " the original is Tamour ; 
oh dear ! " 

" What a sigh, Miss Lee." 

Gabrielle's rich voice ; they had not 
noticed how near they were to the phaeton. 
Hyacinth laughed. 

*' I was quoting your chanson, dear Mrs 
Albany, and lauding its truth," said she. 

**Fromsuch a wide personal experience of 
the world's reverses, of course," said Douglas, 
with his most wicked look. 

" Don't be satirical, sir, or I shall count 
you as an enemy." 



Gabrielle betrays Douglas, 133 

" Then I should remind you of the Italian 
proverb, — ' If I have fifty friends, it is not 
enough ; if I have ■ one enemy, it is too 
much.' That is true enough at any rate, 
nest ce pas, Gabrielle ? " 

" Bitterly true ; but of that Miss Lee can 
hardly have experience, I hope." 

" I certainly don't know of any enemy," 
said Hyacinth, with a merry laugh. " Mr 
Glen-Luna used to say I was a daughter of 
sunshine ; I shall have my share of trouble 
some day, I suppose. Dr Neville, you are 
looking down on me just as if I were some 
curious insect which you expect to see spread 
butterfly-wings and whirr past your face ; 
don't be afraid to laugh ; be as wicked as 
the rest ; I'm used to it." 

" Quite a martyr," said Chandos, laugh- 
ing ; " but, as to the wings, you know 
that angels as well as butterflies are so 
provided." 

" What a pretty speech ; I feel wings 
growing, and, like the immortal Miss 



134 Gabrielle betrays Douglas. 

Miggs, I shall take an easy flight towards 
the stars." 

" I think the earth would suit you better 
at present," suggested Mrs Albany, gather- 
ing up the ribbons. 

" You are not going off the ground yet ! 
Do stop till the stumps are drawn ! " 

But Gabrielle had detected signs of weari- 
ness in Douglas which no one else could — 
signs she felt rather than saw physically. 

" Don't you see how terribly restless my 
horses are ? " she said, smiling ; " they have 
been very good, but they will be almost un- 
manageable if we keep them much longer. 
Sister Eose, do come in soon ; good-bye, Dr 
Neville, till to-morrow morning. Harford, 
please open the gates again." 

The chesnuts made a start, almost a 
bound, forwards, but two strong hands held 
them in, and, as the carriage swept at speed 
off the ground out into the open road, there 
was an absolute little burst of admiration 
from the men. 



Gabrielle beh^ays Douglas. 135 

" By Jove ! what a splendid whip she is! " 
exclaimed Percy Eosslyn to Leicester Al- 
bany. " What a lucky dog Glen-Luna is. 
Brandon ; I told you I'd know the Vienna 
beauty again, and here she is." 

" Don't lose your heart, my dear fellow," 
said the other, with a hardly concealed 
sneer, '' she's deuced handsome, certainly." 

And he turned away to where Jessie stood 
flirting with young Fred Saltoun. She knew 
well enough how to play off against such a 
man as the soi-disant Clifford Brandon. ' 




r^^ 



CHAPTEE XL 



SANDS MAKE THE MOUNTAINS. 



^^^SHE horses quite took up their 
^g ^i driver's skill and attention all 
^4;^^ the way home, and Douglas 
leaned back very silent and quiet ; so silent 
and quiet that presently, after glancing at 
him more than once, Gabrielle said, very 
anxiously, — 

" I am afraid that in saving me you have 
hurt yourself ; you are in pain ! " 

How instantly the grave, even stern, con- 
traction of the brow changed, at the mere 
sound of her voice ! How instantly the 
smile came to the mobile lips, into the deep 
grey eyes that met hers ! 



Sands make the Mountains, 137 

" Dear Gabrielle, I cannot have you 
anxious about me ! No harm was done ; I 
am not in pain ; only rather fatigued. I 
will keep quiet this evening on my couch, 
and you must go down to the drawing-room 
for a pleasant change." 

Pleasant change ! From Ms side to the 
room in which she must see, hear, breathe 
the same air as her husband ! The words 
came like bitter mockery. Douglas saw her 
set her teeth suddenly ; and she said, look- 
ing straight out before her, — 

" It would not be a pleasant change for 
me ! I had rather remain with you ! " 

He said no more ; said very little during 
dinner ; nor did Gabrielle. But presently, 
when he was lying on his sofa, she came 
and sat down in her little, low easy-chair at 
his side. 

" You may scold me now, if you like, for 
betraying you this afternoon ! You said 
you would when you got me alone again ! " 

" Did I ? " throwing one arm under the 



138 Sands make the Mountains, 

graceful head, and looking up at her with a 
contented smile. " It may count, then, 
amongst the dozens of foolish speeches I 
must have made in my life." 

"I have no doubt you have, mon ami; 
so now make a sensible, or, at any rate, a 
true one ! " 

" Ah ! tiens-toi ! " said he, laughing. 
" Are truth and sense, then, on opposite 
sides of the shield ? " 

" Well, yes — sometimes ! You know, 
well enough sense may be truth ; but truth 
is not always sense, or sensible." 

" Cest fa telle madame ! What, then, 
am I to say that contains both ? " 

" Confess," said Gabrielle, laying her hand 
lightly on his, " that you did not find the 
reality as terrible as the shadow. Suddenly, 
even as I flung you into the vortex, it was 
the only way to break the barriers, painful 
as it was." 

He prisoned the hand in his own, and his 
face changed. 



Sands make the Mountains. 1 39 

" It was for minutes horrible pain'. When 
I saw that you had turned in amongst all 
those people, I felt as if mentally you had 
suddenly stabbed me, a dread I cannot ex- 
press. I could have cried out to you to 
drive away, away — anywhere out of sight 
and sound! Truth this, but not sense. 
Then came that cannon-shot ball, with death 
to you in it ; and every thought, every feel- 
ing, every dread but for you was scattered. 
I only knew that your precious life was in 
danger ! And then there was a shout, and 
they were all around us. The Eubicon was 
passed, and — you were still at my side ! " 

He stopped abruptly. He had lifted him- 
self, speaking almost passionately, the dark 
eyes glowing, the bronzed cheeks flushed ; 
but he sank back. 

''After that, Gabrielle, it all seemed 
changed — the cloud of dread gone. You 
had been right when you said that meeting 
them all again would not be so bad as I in 
my morbid suffering had feared, only you 



140 Sands make the Mountains. 

forget one thing that made all the difference 
for me." 

"Did I?" Poor heart! Would nothing 
stop its aching throbs of pain ? " What had 
I forgotten ? " 

" Your own dear presence — the silent at- 
mosphere of your own intense sympathy 
that compassed me like an invisible halo," 
Douglas answered. 

" Thank you," the delicate lips quivered. 
Her low " Thank you " was a little un- 
steady, for one fleeting second, perfect self- 
control had almost failed — almost, not quite 
— her next words were steady. 

" They were all so glad to see you amongst 
them again ; their welcome was so cordial, 
so real, that surely it nearly, if not quite, 
repaid you for the pain and sufl'ering." 

*' It was very good of them. It was more 
than I deserved." He was half absently, as 
he spoke, passing his fingers over the hand 
he had taken. " And most of them, as you 
say, meant it. I think most of them." 



Sands make the Mountains, 141 

His grey eyes were looking dreamily out 
over the scene that lay without — sky and 
forest trees and silver river. What was the 
exception in his mind ? Surely the same 
as hers which pointed unerringly at the one 
who would fain have seen all that beauty 
crushed and laid low in the grave. She tried 
to get at his thought. 

"There is an arriere pensee in your 
mind? To whom does it point, mon ami?'* 

There was a quick flash in the dark eyes 
as the glance came back to her face, tut 
he only laughed slightly and shrugged his 
shoulders. 

" It perhaps might point to more than 
one and be mistaken after all." 

'* You are too keen to be mistaken, or 
easily deceived," said his companion, quietly. 

'' Mille remerciments; let me fully return 
the compliment," said Glen-Luna, " and I 
do not, for one, think you need me to point 
to one there to-day, met for only the second 
time, whom certainly I do not like, or you 



142 Sands make the Mowitains, 

either, and who as certainly does not like 
me." 

She did not move a muscle, or even hold 
her breath as she said, — 

" Who is that ? " 

"Who! Oh, Gabrielle, Gabrielle, you 
are a . wicked humbug after all ! Who 
should I mean but the man they are 
nearly all so taken with — Clifford Bran- 
don." 

Such a fierce look of scorn and hate 
flashed for one second into her eyes, and 
showed itself in the quick movement of her 
free hand, that it was well those keen eyes 
near her were drooping under their heavily- 
fringed lashes. 

" I knew you meant him," she said. 

" And you agree with me ? " 

" Yes, to the full." 

Before very long Douglas had reason to 
remember that answer. He moved a little 
restlessly, a little uneasily, as he often did 
when anything fretted him. 



Sands make the Mountains. 143 

" I wonder if lie is at all in earnest or 
only flirting with Jessie." 

*' I cannot say. It might be either, you 
know," answered Albany's wife, leaning 
back. " Jessie is — pardon me — herself 
such an incorrigible coquette that she 
makes a man flirt ten degrees when he 
would only perhaps go five." 

" She is so terribly like Adeline," said 
Douglas bitterly. The first time one word 
the least inimical to his stepmother 
had passed his lips. " Do you know 
who introduced Brandon into society, 
Gabrielle ? " 

" I fancy," she said, " that it was some 
one at the Polyglot." 

" The Polyglot ! rather a mixed club. 
You know it ? Who else ? " 

" Young Eosslyn knew him. Miss Lee 
said," added Mrs Albany. "Percy Eosslyn, 
I mean, and several others, I believe." 

*' 111 ask Percy about him," said Douglas. 
** We will go into the drawing-room to- 



144 Sands make the Mountains, 

morrow evening, Gabrielle, if you do not 
mind." 

" Ah, that's my own good boy ; it is 
what Dr Neville and I want, you remember; 
it will be such a change for you from this 
suite of rooms." 

" In which," said Glen-Luna serenely, " I 
have been happy enough, as far as outward 
things can go, ever since May. Here comes 
Harford." 

The door opened and the courier 
entered. 

" If you could spare me for a couple of 
hours, Mr Douglas, I should like to ride 
over to Langbourne, as my only sister, Mrs 
Be van, is ill." 

" 111 ! not seriously, I hope, Harford ? " 

"No, sir, thank you; still she is very 
unwell, and as I can't go over in the day 
so well — " 

" Mon clier, go of course, and take her 
a basket of grapes, and anything else you 
think she would like." 



Sands inake the Mountains. 145 

" Thank you, sir, you are too kind. I 
shall not be long." 

" Nay, don't hurry ; you know we're late 
always, and never care how late it is," an- 
swered his master, and Harford retired. 

How little one can foresee the future, of 
even a few weeks ! How little either of 
those three dreamed the apparently, slight 
but terrible bearing the illness of this sister 
was to have on that 

Future's undiscovered land. . 




VOL. II. 



CHAPTEE XII. 



MISTRESS AND MAN. 




CEKTAIN dulness fell on the 
circle remaining after that bril- 
liant equipage had left the 
cricket ground, and Hyacinth openly pro- 
tested to Neville and his sister that it was 
positively too bad of them to go off before 
the end. 

" It's all those tiresome, restive horses," 
said she, " they should have had some more 
quiet pair, now shouldn't they, Dr Neville ? " 
"I don't think Glen-Luna cares to see 
* quiet ' horses in any carriage he is in. Miss 
Lee ; nor would Mrs Albany by choice care 
to drive such easy-going quadrupeds. More- 



Mistress and Man. 147 

over, this time Glen-Luna had no intention 
of coming here at all." 

" Hadn't he ! " Hyacinth's blue eyes 
opened wide in enlightenment. " I thought 
they came on purpose to give us such a 
pleasant surprise." 

"Oh no ; I fancy that Glen-Luna was as 
surprised to find himself here as you all were 
to see him." 

" Didn't he wish to come ? " 

" Indeed, I am only his physician, Miss 
Lee," said the amused doctor ; ** I thifik 
Mrs Albany could answer you better than 
I can." 

" I daresay she thought the change would 
do him good," said Hyacinth shrewdly ; " do 
you know. Miss Neville, I have quite fallen 
in love with her ; I don't know what there 
is about her even beyond her rare beauty — 
a wonderful charm — something so strangely 
interesting, partly, perhaps, because in re- 
pose it is not a happy face, is it ? " 

" No, Miss Lee." 



148 Mist7^ess and Man. 

*' But what a resolute one," added Hya- 
cinth, with a change of tone ; '' mafoi! she 
has a will of her own, as much as Mr Glen- 
Luna himself. Ah, there's mamma's voice 
calling me ; I suppose they are going." 

But if Lady Constance had called, it was 
Lady Glen-Luna who came up, all smiles 
and sweetness as usual. 

'' Dr Neville, one moment ; I am so anxious 
about Douglas, for he looked so fatigued ! 
Do you think that that catch of the ball has 
done any harm ? " 

But Chandos Neville knew the role he 
must play, and was quite equal to her. He 
answered, with a grave bow, — 

" I can hardly tell, madam ; I think not, 
but he was wise to leave." 

" Or rather, so wise of dear Mrs Albany 
to make him go," said Adeline, smiling ; 
" she is so devoted to her duty, and takes 
such good care of our treasure, that really 
his father and I need have no fear for his 
welfare. You will see him to-morrow." 



Mistress and Man, 1 49 

*' Oh yes ; he is not out of the wood yet, 
Lady Glen-Luna." 

" Would that he were, Dr Neville. Will 
you and your sister favour us to-morrow at 
dinner, and a nice long evening, quite quiet ? 
for we want to coax dear Douglas down, and 
talk over getting up theatricals." 

The invitation was accepted for more 
reasons than Lady Glen-Luna dreamed of, 
and they parted. 

Neither had her ladyship the least ideg, 
of the watchful eyes that from a quiet van- 
tage point had all that afternoon taken 
count of her as long as that phaeton was on 
the ground. If any one had asked her 
where Harford had been all that time, it is 
probable that she could not have told the 
questioner that he had remained mounted 
at the head of the chesnuts, seeming to 
take notice of little save for an occasional 
glance at his master or mistress. 

But late that night, after he had at- 
tended to the former, he came noiselessly 



1 50 Mistress and Man. 

to the latter's sitting-room, where she was 
putting away some books before going into 
her bedroom. She turned as the door 
closed. 

'^ Well, Harford?" 

'*Mrs Albany, pardon me; perhaps, 
placed as you and I are, we are almost 
over suspicious." 

" A fault on the right side," she said, 
" when the enemy has the vantage ground, 
and the reptile can bite the very foot 
that spurns it! " 

" Ay, that is true, madam. Well, I 
wonder who and what this Mr Brandon is 
that she is so thick with him ? " 

Gabrielle Albany was standing by the 
centre table, toying with an ivory paper- 
knife as he spoke ; her hand closed with a 
sudden convulsive grasp on the ivory, and 
her white teeth clenched for a moment like 
a vice. 

" I know no more of him than you do, 
Harford," she said slowly, meeting his gaze 



Mistress and Man. 1 5 1 

full. She had wonderful power of acting, 
this woman. 

'*Is he here after Miss Jessie?" said 
the courier, half questioning, half in as- 
sertion. 

" He is credited with being a favoured 
admirer, if not an actual suitor yet," Mrs 
Albany said, with a slight restless move- 
ment that threw her chiselled features 
more into shadow — perhaps designedly. 

" Eeckoning," added Harford with bitter 
emphasis, " on the master's death making 
her heiress ; they say he's got a fortune, 
but rich men like to marry rich girls for 
all that ; her mother favours him, that's 
certain, and that's what I don't like, Mrs 
Albany." 

*' Nor I ; and yet," she said, looking up 
into his face again, " I should have thought 
that Lady Glen-Luna looked for title, more 
rank, more at least decided position for her 
daughter, than Mr Brandon can offer." 

" Ay, but you see Miss Jessie's been out 



152 Mistress and Man. 

two seasons, and not off yet ; she's no great 
catcli while her brother lives." 

*' She has no fortune, then, beyond a 
provision ? " 

" No, ma'am, nothing to call * fortune.' 
The property is all entailed, and Sir Arthur, 
when he married, made a very handsome 
settlement, which, of course. Miss Jessie 
will have — tied up though, beyond any 
husband's control — and she will have a 
good dower if she don't marry to displease 
her people ; but that's all." 

"Ah, cest ^a, and she and her mother 
think that this Brandon bird in the hand 
is worth two in the bush ? " 

" Exactly, madam, but then fine plum- 
age don't make the fine bird, does it ? " 

Who knew that better than the miserable 
woman he addressed ? 

" No," she said quietly, " but Thomas 
Carlyle was not far wrong when he said, 
' The world is very full of people — mostly 
fools.' Eh^ bien, Harford, we must place 



Mistress and Man. 153 

this gentleman under our ban also, the 
more as she takes him up. If we judge a 
man by his books, we may ten times more 
judge him by his intimate friends." 

With that mistress and man parted, the 
latter to his sleep, the first to fling herself 
face downwards on her couch, alone, quite 
alone, smothering even the wild passionate 
cry of appeal to Him who heareth the 
broken hearted. 

" How long, Lord ! how long ? " 




CHAPTEK XIII. 



CHOOSING THE PARTS. 




I HALL we go down to the draw- 
ing-room before they leave the 
dinner-table ? " 
" Gabrielle, you always think of the 
exact thing I wish most ; you will make 
me selfish." 

She smiled, and shook her head as she 
rang for Harford. 

" I am not the least afraid of that, mon 
ami!' 

" I have not yet discovered anything you 
are afraid of, morally or physically, " said 
Douglas, as she wheeled his chair out to the 



Choosing the Parts, 155 

lift. " I am sure you would stand tlie 
truest test for either, " 

He might have excepted one thing — her 
own sorely tried heart ; but she only an- 
swered lightly, — 

**You invest me with qualities which I 
fear I do not possess to quite such an extent 
as that ; I must be a great hypocrite to 
have made you think I do." 

*' I think, though, that Harford agrees 
with me ; don't you, Harford ? " 

" Certainly, Mr Douglas, if madam will 
pardon my boldness. " 

" Oh, you are privileged, I suppose, Har- 
ford," she said, smiling ; and then the lift 
reached the hall below where Angus, who 
had rushed down the wide stone stairs, 
stood proudly swaying his stately tail, and 
then contentedly trotted on before the chair 
in its travels through the wide level cor- 
ridors to the drawing-room habitually used. 

** Angus evidently thinks ' the master ' is 
quite in his right place," said Mrs Albany, 



156 Choosing the Parts. 

as tlie collie pushed wide the door with his 
paw% and wagged round, saying as plainly 
as spoken language, " Haven't I done a very 
fine thing in showing my master in here." 

" I think he is as pleased to see you 
shine in society again as I am." 

"You are very, very kind Gabrielle." 

The few words were said so soberly, with 
such a grave pathos, that the tears sprang 
into her eyes, and for a minute she could 
not have trusted herself to speak quite 
steadily, then she said gently, — 

" Nay, it must needs be the happiness of 
those who are attached to you to see a 
step taken which is for your happiness 
and benefit," 

She always spoke, acted, moved, with the 
easy, perfectly unembarrassed familiarity of 
a privileged attendant, nurse, almost sister ; 
for she knew, felt in the way depths of that 
true woman's instinct which is so rarely at 
fault, that in maintaining that graceful 
familiarity lay her only strength, her 



Choosing the Parts. 1 5 7 

greatest means of holding her position, so 
singular and even anomalous as it was. 

" Voila!' she added, bringing the chair to 
an anchor by one of the open windows, 
" this will be the very place for your 
Majesty to hold your court." 

And at that moment Lady Glen-Lunas 
metallic treble was heard without, and in 
came the ladies. 

" Ah, dear Douglas ! how good of 
you to be here already ; isn't it, Lady 
Constance ? " 

Lady Constance's greeting was very 
genuine ; so was Hyacinth's and Julia's 
and Lady Saltoun's, and, of course, Miss 
Neville's ; and then, while they were all 
talking and laughing round his chair, be- 
side which Mrs Albany still remained, the 
men came in and at once drifted in that 
direction, attracted by both Douglas and 
his beautiful companion ; all but Mr Clif- 
ford Brandon, who, though he, like the 
rest, came up to pay his devoirs with well- 



158 Choosing the Parts. 

feigned cordiality, soon drew aside to the 
outskirts of tlie group ; perhaps he had 
not exactly relished a look he, and only he, 
had caught in the dark eyes of that hand- 
some woman, who stood leaning so lightly 
on the back of the wheeled chair ; a look 
that seemed to warn him to keep his dis- 
tance despite the sword of Damocles he 
held over her head. 

"And now that we are all together,'' 
began Lady Glen-Luna, in that pretty, 
bright way of hers which most people 
found so charming and some few there so 
insincere, "let us try and settle this 
theatrical question. Douglas, my dear, I 
quite rely upon you to help us over all the 
difficulties." 

" Tout-d-vous, chere Adeline," said Glen- 
Luna, smiling ; " but I don't see how I 
can help you much." 

" Oh, you can ; you know so much about 
acting and plays. Doesn't he now, Mrs 
Albany?" 



Choosing the Parts. 159 

" I beg pardon, madam % " Gabrielle had 
been talking to Sister Eose. 

"Why, Douglas knows all about plays 
and acting, that he can suggest a play and 
the parts, and — " 

" I cry you mercy, Adeline ! " interrupted 
Douglas, with uplifted hands of horror. 
" Miss Lee, did you ever hear such a base 
attempt to throw me into such a veritable 
hornets' nest ? Mafoi ! if I named A and B 
for leading parts, all the other letters would 
tear out my eyes." 

" We could not spare the bonniest een 
of all," whispered Sister Eose, with a mis- 
chievous twinkle in her own brown eyes. 

*' Ah, foil Til owe you for that. Sister 
Eose," he instantly whispered back, while 
Hyacinth's laughing retort struck across 
this by-play, — 

" You ought to meekly obey our behests, 
be the consequences what they may." 

"Not much meekness in that quarter, 
my dear," said his father, with a hearty 



1 60 Choosing the Parts, 

laugh ; " I'm afraid it's not a Glen-Luna 
virtue. As to a play, I sliould think a 
farce would be best." 

" Decidedly," added Douglas, with an 
aside to Mrs Albany ; " they'll probably 
make a farce of it, anyhow." 

But the younger people cried out on the 
baronet, and Chandos, with a very grave 
face, suggested " Macbeth," with Miss Lee 
for Lady Macbeth, the mere idea of which 
evoked an outburst of merriment. 

" I do think you deserve a good box on 
the ears, Dr Neville," declared Hyacinth, 
shaking her little fist at him. 

" Even a blow from so fair a hand would 
be welcome. Miss Lee," he answered ; and 
Gabrielle saw a slight frown contract Lady 
Constance's brows. 

Adeline said, — 

" You are a saucy girl. Think of some 
play, please, some of you. Mr Brandon, 
cannot you ? " 

" What do you think of Boucicault's 



Choosing the Parts, 1 6 1 

* Hunted Down ? ' " said Albany, turning 
round. 

But Douglas dealt that one fatal blow. 

" It is not published," he said ; " so, of 
course, you could not get copies." 

" Oh, it must be printed, Douglas ! " ex- 
claimed Jessie, " or how could it have been 
acted at all ? " 

" My dear girl, printing isn't publishing. 
Plays are often printed only for the owner's 
use, or acted from MS. copies. Telegraph 
to French, in the Strand, and you will find 
that I am right." 

" Of course you must know," said 
Lady Glen-Luna; "we must think of 
another." 

" Plot and Passion," suggested young 
Fred Saltoun. 

" Much too tragic," said his father. 

" Too exacting for amateurs," added 
Douglas and Neville together. " Try 
again." 

Several more were named and rejected 

VOL. II. L 



1 62 Choosing the Parts. 

for various reasons, and then suddenly Lady 
Glen-Luna exclaimed, — 

" A bright thought ! Only a few weeks 
ago I chanced to see in the library several 
copies of Stirling Coyne's play of the ' Vicar 
of Wakefield.' Couldn't we do that % I 
remember seeing it played at the Hay- 
market when I was quite a girl." 

" Capital, mamma," cried Jessie ; and Sir 
George Saltoun, who was a great " gun " 
for elderly business in amateur theatricals, 
said, — 

" I think we might manage it as well as 
any other. Are the copies handy, Lady 
Glen-Luna ? " 

" I'll get them, mayn't I, please % " ex- 
claimed Hyacinth. 

" Thanks, dear ; but I know exactly 
where they are, so — " 

Off" tripped her little ladyship to the 
library, and soon returned triumphantly 
with a little pile of paper-bound copies, 
which she distributed all round. 



Choosing the Parts, 163 

"There, look! What do you think, 
Douglas ? " 

" Chere helle-mere, I am out, of course. 
I am not going to play." 

" You tiresome fellow ! But will it do, 
dear, do you think ? " 

"Yes, if you can manage the parts — 
though this is by no means a good play ; 
not in any way to compare to Wills's 
* Olivia,' according to the notice I read 
when it was on at the Court, and ac- 
cording to Mrs Albany's description of 
it. This version, for one thing, has 
followed the tale, and left those two 
women, Lady Blarney and Skeggs, to 
tell what Wills has, of course, made one 
of the most effective scenes — that be- 
tween Thornhill and Olivia when she learns 
his villainy. 

" Couldn't we alter this version ? " said 
Hyacinth eagerly. "Mr Glen-Luna, I'm 
sure you could ! Cut out those stupid old 
women here, and wTite a scene like in 



1 64 Choosing the Parts. 

' Olivia.' He can cut out Lady Glen-Luna, 
can't lie ? " 

" He's clever enough to do anything," 
laughed Adeline, playfully striking his 
shoulder. " He could cut and write in, and 
Mrs Albany kindly make us copies. Oh, all 
so nice if they will ! " 

Instant chorus of youth. 

" Oh do, please ; it will be twice as jolly." 

" I'll do anything possible within my 
power, ladies, and Mrs Albany's memory 
will, I am sure, kindly come to assist me ; 
but you must not expect a reproduction of 
Wills's fine scene." 

Chorus — " Oh, it will be splendid ! how 
jolly of you." 

'' And for the parts," added Jessie, "who 
must be the vicar ? " 

As if by one movement, every one turned 
to Sir George Saltoun. Sir Arthur clapped 
a hand on his shoulder. 

" No negatives allowed, Saltoun, you see ; 
vote carried by acclamation. And I fancy. 



Choosing the Parts. 165 

Neville, that you would do Mr Burchell 
well." 

" You are too flattering, Sir Arthur, but 
I—" 

" No refusal, sir, when I add my request," 
whispered Lady Glen-Luna, with sweet per- 
suasive impressiveness. 

''Eh hien!'' said the doctor good-naturedly, 
" I suppose I must not finish the refusal ?" 

Douoflas looked down with an odd little 
smile hovering on his lips as the thought 
rose, how very aptly 1 could cast at least 
two of the parts. The only woman in the 
room who could play Olivia was, he knew, 
the very one whom Adeline would not name, 
indeed, could not well put before guests, 
Gabrielle Albany. The other Squire Thorn- 
hill, his glance went covertly to the fine 
imposing form, and swarthy — to him repel- 
lant — face of Leicester Albany ; but he said 
nothing, and it was Adeline who turned that 
way and laid her white hand half-laughingly 
on his arm. 



1 66 Choosing the Parts. 

" It's a good part in one way, Mr Bran- 
don, and a troublesome one in another ; but 
will you take Squire Thornhill % " 

Though the man dared not even glance 
towards his wife, he knew her thought as 
well as if it had been spoken, even while he 
answered Adeline with a low bow, — 

" I will do my best with any part you 
honour me by wishing me to take." 

'* Thanks, fifty times ; and if you, Mr 
Saltoun" — Fred bowed assent beforehand — 
" will play Moses (just your comic part), 
and Mr Kosslyn take Jenkinson, we can go 
to the women's parts, and settle the sub- 
ordinates afterwards. I think the three 
girls had better draw lots for Olivia and 
Sophia." 

Not one there, except Jessie and her 
mother and Mr Leicester Albany, but would 
if they could have at once named Mrs 
Albany, who, talking to gentle Eose, hardly 
seemed to notice what went on ; as it was, 
there was really no other way for the 



Choosing the Parts, 167 

hostess to do ; she knew that Jessie would 
not draw, for that little coquette was too 
well aware how utterly ridiculous she — who 
never had been able to act one bit, or repeat 
ten lines of verse correctly — would make 
herself in, of all others, such a part, and 
one in <^which Clifford Brandon had seen 
Ellen Terry not so very long ago — not she. 

" I won't draw, mamma, dear," said she, 
stepping back, as if inadvertently, to where 
Albany stood beside Sir Arthur, "for if I 
got it, I couldn't do it a bit ; it's not»my 
part at all.'' 

" You are too modest," said Albany, bend- 
ing down, " or too generous, in giving up." 

She blushed and laughed and denied, 
feeling she had made a decided "hit" in 
that quarter. Amidst much amusement 
and speculations the requisite paper, and a 
dainty Indian card-tray were brought, and, 
when ready. Lady Glen-Luna begged Doug- 
las to hold it, whereupon Angus, who had 
watched the cutting and folding the slips of 



1 68 Choosing the Parts. 

paper as if the whole was designed for his 
express benefit, gravely raised himself, with 
his great paws on his master s knees, pushed 
his brown nose into the card-tray, gave the 
hand that held it a loving lick, as if to say, 
'' Please forgive me," and dropped gently 
to his old position, lying in the ^'chair at 
Douglas's feet, and keeping watch on Albany 
if he came near his master or mistress. 
Dogs are very keen, if all-unconscious, dis- 
ciples of Lavater. 

" Now, maidens fair ! " said Glen-Luna. 

Laughing they came up. Hyacinth looking 
saucily in his face as she bent over the tray, 
and in a tone that only reached his ear, — 

" Only Mrs Albany can play this part. 

I' 'j- " 
won t. 

And she drew one of the folded papers. 
Julia Saltoun followed. Both opened, and 
Julia held up hers with an exclamation of 
fear and dismay. 

" It's too absurd ; I can't do it a bit ! I 
shall only guy Olivia and the whole piece., 



Choosing the Parts. 169 

Do make some one else take this, dear Lady 
Glen-Luna. Hyacinth will make a capital 
Sophia; but I've never acted any leading- 
part, and I'm certain I sha'n't remember 
such a long part or — " 

" Nonsense, my dear," said Lady Saltoun ; 
" you mustn't be lazy. I assure you, Lady 
Glen-Luna, she can act very well." 

" I'm sure of that," was the suave answer, 
and Julia yielded ; but while Adeline was 
assigning Mrs Primrose to Lady Constance 
and discussing the main points, the youfig 
lady — who certainly had little stage con- 
ceit — confided to Douglas's private ear that 
she hoped some one would under study the 
part. 

And that wicked, courtly Douglas was 
such a hypocrite as to tell her he was sure 
she would play Olivia to perfection, if she 
would cast aside all fear of failure. 

We must put Truth at the very bottom 
of her well sometimes — n!est-ce pas ? 



CHAPTEK XIY. 



CROSS CURRENTS. 



^^^ ACT " sounds a very simple, even 
commonplace, little word ; but 
what a detestable specimen of 
creation is the man or woman who totally 
lacks that quality ! They are like '' sweet 
bells jangled out of tune." The majority 
have a fair amount of it ! the minority have 
that exquisite tact — that rare intensity of 
subtle sympathy which is in itself a gift, of 
which Douglas had said to his attendant 
that hers surrounded him like a halo. 

It was so this evening ! She sang, played 
when asked, took her part in entertaining 
the guests, as only a graceful, accomplished 



Cross Cur7^enfs. 171 

woman of the world can do, and overtly 
gave no more attention to Douglas than 
belonged to the position in which she stood 
to him ; but yet he felt, not sentiently, but 
in a vague, happy, restful way, that tlie 
nameless halo was there about him. If 
more than once something inadvertent jarred 
painfully, a turn of the conversation, a 
chance word perhaps, some extra quick 
energetic movement of Rosslyn or Saltoun, 
that forced upon him even more than usual 
the sad difference between himself and them, 
he would somehow be sure to meet her dark 
eyes and see their glance go from himself to 
Dr Neville with a bright smile that to him 
said plainly, " Only a little while ! Look 
forward to the hope held up ! " or somehow 
the conversation was turned ; no one knew 
how. Almost before he knew himself that 
his eye was a little weary of this aspect of 
the room a firm hand touched his chair, and 
lo ! it was quietly wheeled into quite another 
position and part of the sj)acious apartment. 



172 Cross Cttrre^its, 

If — and this was more than once — Adeline 
was fretting and jarring every sensitive 
chord with effusive attentions and affection, 
she was sure to be called upon for something 
for some one ; though that some one could 
not have definitely said from whence came 
the suggestion that Lady Glen-Luna sang 
such a song, or knew the story of that old 
tower in — shire, of which this was the 
engraving, and told it so cleverly. She was 
scarcely beside him herself for five minutes 
together ; but he felt 

Her presence by a spell of might, 
Stoop o'er liim from above. 

It was well on in the evening before 
Douglas found an opportunity of speaking 
to Percy Eosslyn ; and then, just after 
Hyacinth and Mrs Albany had sung one of 
Rubinstein's exquisite duets, and every one 
was begging for another, Douglas caught 
Eosslyn's eye and signed to him. 



Cross Currents. 173 

" Anything I can do for you, old fellow ?" 
asked the young man eagerly. 

'' Oh no ! thanks ! It's only that they 
tell me Mr Brandon is a friend of yours ; 
and as I didn't recollect such a name on 
your list when I was amongst you all, I was 
conjecturing where you had met him. At 
the Polyglot, wasn't it ? " 

" I think it was first ; but I know he was 
very well introduced there, you know." 
" By whom ? " asked Douglas. 
" I really forget. An attache of the 
Austrian Embassy, I think. He's one of 
the Brandons of — shire, and very 
rich ! " 

" Vraiment ! " shrugging his shoulders. 
" Plays rather, don't he, Koss ? " This was 
a random shot on suspicion. 

" No ; not much, that ever I saw. No ; 
he came in to Aylmer's a few times ; but 
didn't play much, and that rather indif- 
ferently." 

" Bets high on races, then ? " 



] 74 Cross Cttr rents. 

" He may, perhaps ; but, if so, he's rather 
dark," returned Percy, glancing with a 
merry twinkle to where Albany was de- 
cidedly flirting with Jessie. " Oh ! you 
needn't be afraid ; though he is, certainly — 
pardon me, yon know — e'pris. She's very 
pretty ; and he saved her from being burned, 
you see ! I'm sure you'll like him ! He is 
liked in society, and certainly he is an ad- 
mirer of your sister's !" 

"So I see ! " said Douglas, rather dryly. 

" And every one knows all about him ! " 
added Eosslyn. 

" Do they ! Cest hien done mon cher ! 
Ah ! another of those lovely duets, and how 
well the voices blend ! " 

" What a glorious creature your friend 
Mrs Albany is ! " said Percy enthusiasti- 
cally. " If her husband treated her badly, 
as they said, he deserves hanging ; unless 
he is dead." 

It was clear that Eosslyn had not for- 
gotten the impression made on his fancy by 



Cross Currents. 175 

the beautiful inconnue at the Vienna opera- 
house, eighteen months ago. Gabrielle's 
face was not one to be easily forgotten, even 
by a young fellow who generally fell in love 
and out of it with every change of the 
moon, as the old song has it. His love 
was 

Like the moon, 
Which in the firmament doth run, 
And every month is new ^ 

'' No ; he is not dead ! " said Douglas^ 
half amused, half pained ; and as he spoke 
across the disc of his eyes passed the figure 
of the very man of whom he was so uncon- 
sciously speaking. " For Heaven's sake, my 
dear boy, take care she never even hears you 
allude to him. If you have heard anything 
of the story from my helle-mere, you can 
understand how more than painful it is to 
Mrs Albany." 

" My dear Glen-Luna, you may rely on 
me ! I'd cut out my tongue before it should 
wound her, by Jove ! " 



176 Cj^oss Cur^^ents. 

" I hardly think so severe a sacrifice 
would be exacted by Hermes!" said the 
other, with a sort of quiet, good-natured 
irony. 

Percy laughed. 

" No ; I suppose not. Don't you think 
this play will be great fun ? " 

" Yery great fun, indeed ! " 

" You wicked, satirical scamp ! Don't 
you think they'll act well ? They're all 
used to it ; at least, I don't know about 
Cliff Brandon and Dr Neville." 

*' I dare say they'll do charmingly." 

" But you think that Olivia — you agree 
with Miss Saltoun's own dictum of her- 
self?" 

" One should always bow to a lady's 
opinion, I believe," returned Douglas, play- 
ing with his moustache. 

" You are incorrigible, Glen-Luna. Of 
course we all, I suspect, hoped that — well, 
that Mrs Albany would play it. I'm sure 
she could splendidly ! Don't you ? " 



Cross Currents, ijj 

Another foreign shrug. 

" Can't say, mon cher. I should think 
so, from my own intimate knowledge of her ; 
and she has acted a good deal." 

'* It's very provoking," said Percy, his eyes 
fixed on the graceful form at the piano. 
" Well, I suppose it can't be helped ! I'll 
do my best with a small part, as the critics 
say when they don't know what the deuce 
to say. You and Mrs Albany will be busy 
enough over writing in and arranging to- 
morrow, I suppose ? " 

" I daresay we shall ! " 

" It's awfully good-natured of you, Glen- 
Luna ; but it's just like you. Can't I 
help ? " 

"Oh no ; thanks, dear boy ! It's easy 
enough." 

" To you, clever fellow! You always were 
so handy with your pen; but I couldn't 
manage at all. But I could copy the new 
scene you write." 

" Thanks, very much ; but Mrs Albany 

VOL. II. M 



178 Cross Currents. 

will soon do that, Koss. You will find 
enough to do in getting up your part." 

" I suppose Lady Glen-Luna will get up 
a grand lot of spectators ? " asked Percy. 

"Oh, of course ! A ball, I daresay ; and 
a hop after the play." 

'* You will come down, dear old fellow ? " 
said Eosslyn earnestly. " It won't be a bit 
of fun if you are stuck away, you know ! " 

Douglas flushed for a moment, at once 
pained and touched. 

" I daresay I shall come down, dear Ross. 
It's very kind of you all ! " 

He stopped and bit his lip, man like, 
proudly crushing even such slight sign of 
emotion ; and then a burst of applause 
broke across, and Percy turaed to add his 
thanks. 

But Leicester Albany muttered fiercely to 
himself, — '* She never sang like that for me 
since many a year ! " 

He forgot how many years it was since he 
had cared to ask her to sing for him, or to 



Cross Currents. 179 

listen when the rich voice poured forth its 
wealth at the request of others who could 
better appreciate it than he had ever done. 
Here jealousy fed on a .strange mixture of 
fear and hate and flashes of base passion i 




CHAPTEK XV. 



THE NEW 



OLIVIA. 




OUGLAS GLEN -LUNA and 

Gabrielle were busy the next 
day in rearranging the *' Vicar 
of Wakefield." The cutting out of the boys 
■ — Will and Dick — necessitated some altera- 
tion of the first scene, and one or two others, 
as did also the disappearance of the women 
— Blarney and Skeggs. Of course, there- 
fore. Scene second in Act IL came out 
bodily, and in its place Douglas wrote a 
scene placed in Squire Thornhill's rooms in 
town, where he tells Olivia that their mar- 
riage was only a sham. 

" And she shall give him a blow too," said 



The New ''Olivia^ 18 1 

Douglas, writing it in the stage directions, 
" only I'm afraid Miss Saltoun will, as she 
said, pretty nearly guy the thing. I wish 
that—" 

He arrested the rest on his lips. There 
was, perhaps, just enough of a resemblance 
in some points between her own bitter ex- 
perience and " Olivia's " story to make it a 
painful part for Gabrielle to play, though, 
if Lady Glen-Luna had directly asked her, 
she could hardly have refused. 

Just after luncheon Lady Glen-Luna, a 
rare enough visitor, came up with a little 
tap-tap and apology for intruding, but 
Angus, half a minute before, had risen up 
with an uneasy whine and walked to the 
door, putting his nose close to the bottom 
of it. 

" The belle-mere is coming," Douglas had 
said quietly ; ''Angus always tells me if any 
unaccustomed person is coming, and whether 
he likes or dislikes them — dear old boy ! " 

And then enter Adeline, like a pretty 



1 82 The New ^'Oliviar 

little tiger-cat Gabrielle tliouglit, and won- 
dered if, like herself, he assigned Adeline 
her likeness in music to that heard by 
Mendelssohn in the Sistine Chapel, of which 
he wrote, — 

" Mark also the horrible discord of the 
Papal fifths." 

" Bad boy," said she playfully, '' every 
one is grumbling at you and Mrs Albany 
for not appearing one bit all this morning." 

''Firstly, helle-mere, I preferred remain- 
ing in my own castle ; and secondly, look 
there," pointing to the folios of MS. before 
(rabrielle, " how do they think we could get 
through their pldy unless we kept to work ? 
Why, Brandon can't learn the centre-point 
of the part until it's written. They ought 
to be studying their parts instead of calling 
us hard names." 

" Mrs Albany, you don't keep him in 
order ; please do make him come down now 
or this evening." 

" I think not." Gabrielle glanced up with 



The New ''Oliviar 183 

something of anxious doubt in her expres- 
sion. " I must not, you know, have Dr 
Neville scold me for encouraging over- 
fatigue." 

" You hear my autocrat's order, Adeline ! " 
laughed Douglas. " NHmporto, we shall 
meet somewhere in the grounds or park, 
perhaps to-morrow, or I may take it into 
my head to inflict myself on you all again 
in the drawing-room, quien sabe f " 

" Dear boy ! I wish that all inflictions 
were as delightful as your company," purred 
Lady G-len-Luna; " don't you, Mrs Albany ?" 

** Decidedly, madam." 

" But you will be present at our play, 
Douglas ; and of course you too, Mrs 
Albany ? " 

** Cela va sans dire nest-ce pas f " said 
Glen-Luna ; " when is it to come off? " 

" About ten days or a fortnight, dear, I 
think. I will write at once about the cos- 
tumes and scenery, and send out my invi- 
tations. Sir George will be stage manager 



1 84 The New ''Olivia^ 

and all that ; he's capital at all that, and 
has told them that they must all have a 
first rehearsal in three days, so they're all 
learning their parts as hard as they can." 

" Will Neville be able to come ? " 

" I sent a note down this morning to ask 
him to name his time, and he wrote back 
that his evenings were free unless he should 
happen to be sent for, which was not very 
likely, as the country is so different to a 
London practice. Ta, ta, now ; I only came 
to tell you these things, so I'll run off to 
my letters." 

And away she went, much to the relief 
both of Glen-Luna and his attendant. 

All they had undertaken to do was given 
in complete the next morning, and the 
getting up of the play went on briskly 
amongst the other amusements ; only Julia 
Saltoun found hers a task, and secretly felt 
very much afraid she should make a fiasco. 

Douglas kept rather aloof, as he had been 
used to do; during the ten or twelve days 



The New ' ' Olivia!' 1 8 5 

that followed, for all the talk and interest 
begun and ended, he said, with the play 
and ball, which all bored fearfully, and it 
suited Grabrielle's plan of strategy, because 
it gave and enabled her to give Lady Glen- 
Luna still more the conviction that this 
lling into society was really harmful to the 
heir of Glen-Luna ; exactly this belief clever 
Mrs Albany wished to produce. In the 
grounds, and more than once out driving, 
they met ; once or twice, too, Douglas came 
down to the drawing-room in that ten days, 
but that was all. Dr Neville said nothing ; 
he knew well that in Gabrielle's hands all 
was right. The last rehearsal of the play 
was fixed for the morning of the day before 
the ball, and while the '' company " retired 
to one of the many sitting-rooms, Glen- 
Luna, Gabrielle, and Sister Rose, who had 
walked up with Chandos, betook themselves 
to a favourite nook at the bottom of the 
lawn, where there was a garden chair for 
the elder lady, the younger taking her more 



1 86 The New ''Olivia^ 

usual seat on the foot of the wheeled chair, 
with two or three volumes from which to 
select readings, and Angus speedily curling 
himself on her robe ; the warm air was 
laden with the scent of flowers, the lazy 
hum of insects, and the ripple of the river, 
deepening rather than breaking the stillness 
of the cloudless August morning, and now 
and again the sound of voice and splash of 
oars came to their ears ; then there was a 
restless movement, a quick, pained con- 
traction of the brows in Douglas that did 
not escape Gabrielle ; and then she saw him 
look at his hands, those delicate chiselled 
hands that yet had such nervous strength. 

'* Yes," she said, quietly, exactly as if his 
bitter thought had been spoken — as it had 
to her — '' those hands will hold oars again 
as well as ever they did. Don't you feel — 
think — how diff"erent you are to what you 
were ? " 

" I think," he said, perhaps to hide deep 
emotion, " that you are a magician, and 



The New ''Oliviar 187 

Neville another ; are they not, Sister 
Eose ? " 

" I hope they will prove so, my dear," 
answered Sister Eose, looking up with 
her beaming smile ; " magic has changed 
character in these days, but not died out." 

** No, not died out," Douglas repeated 
softly, half to himself, and a dreamy look 
came into the large grey eyes, as if they 
saw something afar off beyond the range 
of physical vision ! perhaps they did, a wild, 
mad dream of a future that could never be, 
the woman he loved, free, and by his side, 
his own for ever. He actuall}^ started with 
an impatient frown at the sudden sound 
of voices approaching, and turned his head 
quickly. 

" Why, it is the company ! What is the 
matter ? A break down ! Adeline, too ! " 

Yes, so it was ; nearly all talking, laugh- 
ing, and yet with dismayed looks, bearing 
straight down on the trio, whose repose they 
at once scattered to the air. 



i88 The New ''Oliviar 

" Now, remember girls," Lady Glen-Luna 
said, as they neared them, " one at a time, 
or we shall frighten them ; if I am to ask, 
I'll speak first." 

" What is the matter, helle-mere ? " asked 
Douglas ; but he noticed that, though Julia 
looked flushed and " odd," Hyacinth and 
the others looked more expectant and trium- 
phant than anything else. 

" Why, my dear, this naughty, naughty 
Julia has fairly struck her colours at re- 
hearsal, and says — " 

*' I broke down," said Julia ; " I knew I 
shouldn't do it ; I said so from the first. 
I'm awfully sorry to vex anybody, but I 
had better give up at once for a better sub- 
stitute than break down in the play. I 
can't do ' Olivia ! ' Do take my part, Mr 
Glen-Luna, and say honestly that you know 
I'm right." 

" I'll say anything a lady commands, 
Miss Saltoun ; you are quite right." 

" Hear, hear," cried Julia, tossing up her 



The New ''Oliviar 189 

hat, " and I'm sure Mr Brandon really 
endorses it, for he plays capitally, and ought 
to have a good ' Olivia.' I beg your pardon, 
dear Lady Glen-Luna, for interrupting your 
mission, but I wanted some support." 

Adeline wore her sweetest smile — she 
only had one or two — and most pretty, 
playful manner, as she said, — 

"It is too bad to ask anybody to take 
up a role like that at such a few hours' 
notice, and I should have telegraphed to 
Blackmore for some actress, but by general 
vote and acclamation I was at once en- 
treated and deputed to petition a lady of 
whose dramatic gifts I was only then made 
aware." She turned now with charming 
insouciance and entreaty to Gabrielle, 
" Dear Mrs Albany, you will not refuse to 
play ' Olivia ' for us ? They tell me you 
are so clever an actress, and so used to it. 
My dear girl you won't refuse ? " 

Eefuse ! how should she not refuse ? 
What ! play " Olivia " to that man's 



I90 The New ''Olivia!' 

"" Thornhill" of all men born ! — play so 
nearly in fiction the story he had made 
her play so terribly in fact ; the man who 
had sworn he would repudiate her as wife 
and claim her as mistress ! But for the 
sake of the man at whose feet she sat she 
must have followed the passionate impulse 
of the moment, and stood up in their midst 
to point her denouncing hand at their 
favoured guest and tell them why she 
refused their petition. All this flashed 
like lightning through heart and brain, 
and Douglas alone felt, what her husband 
knew, that she would fain refuse. 

"It is such short notice, Lady Glen- 
Luna," she said, and if the colourless cheek 
grew a shade pallid, it was the only out- 
ward sigh that mastered self-control. '* I 
am so sorry, but I am afraid you must 
excuse me. I could in no way," and only 
Albany felt the hidden irony, " play up to 
Mr Brandon s ' Thornhill.' '' 

''Mrs Albany, indeed you must not 



The New ' ' Olivia!' 1 9 1 

refuse us ! " exclaimed Adeline, now really 
in despair, and for once, therefore, with all 
the force of earnestness ; and Sir George 
Saltoun and the others came up with such 
a chorus of beseeching and protestations 
that Douglas interfered, half in jest, half in 
earnest. 

*' Ma foiy mes amis, but I must protect 
Mrs Albany from your desperate attack ; 
are you not rather putting both her powers 
and good nature to a severe test ? " 

" Oh no, no." Adeline clasped her 
white hands with prettiest entreaty. 
"Don't listen to your wicked defender, 
dear Mrs Albany, but come to our rescue 
only in pity for my position as hostess. I 
know you have acted and recited, for Mr 
Brandon told me just jiow that you told 
him you had studied, and so I'm sure you 
can get up ' Olivia ' between this and to- 
morrow. If you would ortly say you will 
do your best with the part I shall take it 
as a personal favour." 



192 The New ''Olivia'' 

How could she still refuse without the 
fear, the extreme likelihood, of rousing 
some suspicion of other reasons in Glen- 
Luna's quick brain which might be dan- 
gerous ? She yielded gracefully, with a 
low bow. 

"It is impossible to refuse that which 
your ladyship makes a personal request. 
I will do my best with ' Olivia,' and you 
will all perhaps pardon defects ? " 

" We shall first have to discover them, 
madam," said Leicester, bending low, and 
as she turned their eyes met for one second ; 
his, full of bold admiration and insolent 
triumph — in hers, haughty scorn, defiance, 
warning. Then she laughed slightly, 
shruso:ing: her shoulders. 

" Eh hien, monsieur ; nous verrons." 

And then Lady Glen-Luna came in with 
effusive thanks. Douglas again came to 
her rescue. 

"Miss Saltoun, if you would kindly let 
Mrs Albany have your copy of the ' Yicar ' 



The New ' ' Olivia, " 193 

she would perhaps like to commence her 
task without delay, so as to be ready, if 
possible, for one stage rehearsal to-morrow. 
I can be of some help to her, I think." 

" Oh, but you need not desert us too, 
dear," said Adeline. 

" Thanks ; but I had rather be quiet to- 
day," said Douglas, lazily drooping his dark 
head back against the cushions, '* if you 
will all kindly excuse me ? " 

" I suppose we must," said Hyacinth 
ruefully, as the relieved and delighted Julia 
gave her play-book to the new '* Olivia," 
whispering eagerly, — 

" You're just the very one we all 
secretly wanted to play it from the first, 
Mrs Albany." 

Which was true ; but it was very far 
from what Mrs Albany herself wished. 
Circumstances had for the second time in a 
fortnight beaten her back and conquered 
her, giving the vantage ground to her 
husband. 

VOL. II. N 



194 T^^ New ''Oliviar 

Then Chandos Neville and his sister said 
they must take leave, and the younger 
people declared they would walk with them 
to the park gates, while Sir George Saltoun 
and Lady Glen-Luna returned to the house, 
and with a deep drawn breath of relief 
Gabrielle Albany found herself once more 
alone with Douglas Glen-Luna. 




CHAPTEE XVI. 



CRUMBLING BENEATH THEIR FEET. 




N copying the play as rearranged, 
and looking through it, Gabrielle 
had, in fact, pretty well got 
letter-perfect before this, and her own rare 
facility of memory made the committal of 
" Olivia's" part an easy task at any time, 
as Douglas very well knew ; and he ascribed, 
her reluctance to assume that role to the 
dislike she felt for Clifford Brandon, and 
still more to play a part which in so many 
points resembled her own sorrowful story, 
and must therefore be deeply painful. 

" There — I know it ! " she said about a 
couple of hours later, almost flinging the 



196 Criunbling beneath their Feet. 

little book on the grass, to Angus's great 
surprise. " I have neglected you long 
enough. Let me read to you, mon ami, or 
recite one or two of your favourites," draw- 
ing from his hands the volume he had been 
quietly reading all this time. 

*' Indeed, my dear Gabrielle, you shall 
not tire yourself for me, though your splen- 
did reciting is always such a treat. You 
have studied elocution under both Eegnier 
and Salvini, and I have often wondered why 
you did not go in for reciting instead of 
going to old Professor Merton. You have 
every advantage, both as a public and draw- 
ino:-room reader." 

" Except money," said Gabrielle, shak- 
ino^ her head with a half sad smile, '' and 
interest." 

" Ah, peste ! — there it always is," said 
Douglas, with an impatient movement ; 
"what a frightful amount of talent and 
genius is lost or hidden for want of 
that ! " 



Crumbling beneath their Feet, 197 

She dropped her hand and said, playing 
with the collie's long, silky ears, — 

" I shall, if possible, try it whenever I 
leave here ; but, you see, when I lied to 
England I was utterly friendless — ay, 
worse, worse than friendless, as well as 
poor, and the lawsuit swept up all I had 
brought. I was in the worst possible posi- 
tion for trying to get into — certainly 
drawing-room recitations, as you can at 
once see, and I had no money to live upon, 
or dress upon, while I was trying. No in- 
terest — no introduction of any sort. I had 
been, save for one or two flying visits, out of 
England for seven years ; I was practically 
a stranger and a foreigner. Moreover, I 
was not then equal to the wear and tear 
of a struggling professional life ; I was like 
a more than half-wrecked vessel flung on a 
lee-shore. The garish whirl of the terrible 
life I had lived, ending so fearfully as it 
did, had for a time shattered my powers, 
and for months after I left Leicester Albany 



198 Crumbling beneath their Feet. 

I could not, I know, have borne the sight 
or sounds of a ball-room ; nothing but 
quiet and rest. The situation which, by a 
lucky chance, my lawyer got me was a 
very godsend ; it was a harbour of refuge 
after the wild tempest, and I was strong, 
quite strong, long before I was again cast 
adrift." 

The rich, soft voice, with its strange 
pathos and suppressed passion, ceased for a 
moment ; then she added, very low, bend- 
ing yet a little more over Angus, — 

" And now, for a time, I have found a 
home." 

" Gabrielle, Gabrielle ! I would to Heaven 
I could free you, be the cost to me what it 
might ! " 

The passionate force of the man — ay, 
something deeper than either^startled her 
for a moment, as the flash of lightning 
lights up the whole canopy of Heaven, and 
the blood rushed wildly back on her heart. 

" Hush, oh, hush ! " she said under her 



Crumbling beneath their Feet. 199 

breath ; " I would not, if I could, take free- 
dom at the least cost to you. Forgive me ; 
I hardly know how it was — I never meant 
to say so much. I have no right, and, 
Heaven knows, would never pain or wound 
you for one moment." 

'' The wound to me, Gabrielle, is because 
it is first yours." He had mastered himself 
— so nearly self - betrayed — once more. 
" Promise me that you will treat me still, 
ever, as your friend, to whom you can 
speak as you will, and find deepest, truest 
sympathy. Nay, no answer in words," for 
he saw how her lips were quivering ; 
" only put your hand in mine, and I am 
answered." 

Such a delicate, beautiful hand ! She 
looked up as she laid it in his, and that 
touch of hand to hand struck one chord 
that went straight from heart to heart. 
He lifted that hand to his lips — gravely, 
reverentially, and dropped it in silence. 
Unconsciously in each of these two brave 



200 Crumbling beneath their Feet, 

hearts, so very near, so terribly sepa- 
rated, Lovelace's noble sentiment still held 
paramount sway — 

" I could not love thee, dear, so much, 
Loved I not honour more." 




CHAPTER XVII. 



THE BALL — THE PLAY. 




ADY GLEN-LUNA had certainly 
signally won the first move in 
her evil game, though she coulcl 
only guess its probability, not know it for 
a fact. Still her ladyship felt perfectly 
satisfied of one thing, that whether or no 
Douglas actually loved Gabrielle Albany, 
and she deemed it was hardly possible he 
could be heart-free after having her nearly 
three months with him, she had no cause 
to fear Hyacinth Lee ; she had no chance 
against such a rival as Mrs Albany were 
she to wish it and try twenty times to win 
him. The only one thing she had to dread 



202 The Ball — The Play, 

was the death of Mrs Albany's husband ; 
but for that chance. 

" Bah ! " muttered her ladyship ; '' M. le 
Diable takes care of his own, and men like 
that always live long, just because their 
wives want them to be dead. As for 
Hyacinth — she is four-and-twenty, and if 
she did not care for Douglas, why on earth 
hasn't she married ? Poor Lady Constance ; 
that girl will take the bit between her teeth 
yet, and marry some one without title, 
money, or any particular position ; only in 
her way she flirts and favours all round, 
that it's hard to tell which she likes best or 
flirts with most — Brandon, Eosslyn, Douglas, 
or Dr Neville. He admires her, I'm sure, 
and I am very glad she plays Sophia to his 
Burchell. Lady Constance don't like it, 
I can see ; but that's all the better, for if 
Hyacinth would only fall in love I should 
be absolutely safe as long as Douglas lives, 
as long — " 

She stopped, and walking up to the long. 



The Ball — The Play. 203 

cheval glass in her dressing-room, surveyed 
her own pretty petite figure and face in it, 
smiled in two or three different ways at 
herself, tried a look of horror, of surprise, of 
sorrow, and then one of gentle sadness. 

" So that will do, I fancy. I wish I had 
more courage ; I could soon end it, I think ; 
but then — then, the least suspicion would 
be fatal. I must try easy, natural measures 
still." 

What was the woman speaking, thinking 
of? Harford had said to Mrs Albany of 
her, " Do you know what a little devil she 
is ? " Both of those two, who loved Douglas 
Glen-Luna, might well have shivered at the 
face looking at itself in the glass. Ah, if 
it had but been a magic mirror, such as in 
fairy tales you see coming events reflected 
as unerringly as the Highlander's second 
sight forewarns him of danger. 

Then she suddenly clenched her hands 
and stamped her foot in a paroxysm of im- 
potent rage. 



204 The Ball — The Play. 

" Why didn't the accident do its work 
better ? Why did it leave me all to finish 
at such risk ? Why does he linger on — 
linger on, as if his wrecked life was worth 
his having ? And, good Heaven — that this 
frail life should be all that stands between 
my child and such a splendid inheritance ! 
It shall not ! Oh, if I had only one safe 
confederate, whose whole interest went with 
mine ! Ha ! " 

What thought had struck her that the 
exclamation escaped her with such a flash 
in the steel grey eyes, that made them 
glitter like a serpent's ? What thought 
made the lips compress into such a thin, 
sinister line as she left the room ? Five 
minutes later she was smiling, laughing, at 
luncheon, the most affable, lively, best of 
hostesses. 

'' Two-faced girl make bad squaw," say the 
North American Indians. 

The unusually spacious and magificent 
suite of reception-rooms at Luna Hall were 



The Ball — The Play. 205 

the admiration, and perhaps secret envy, of 
the county, and the hostess entering them 
first before she retired to dress, had reason 
to feel satisfied with the tasteful beauty and 
perfection of light and colour. The third 
room of the suite it was which had loner ao-o 
been altered and arranged for use either for 
music or theatricals, had now easily been 
converted into a very convenient bijou 
theatre, under the auspices of the men 
sent from London to take charge of the 
scene-shifting and the necessary " business.'" 
Stage, wings, exits, place for the band, and 
rows upon rows of stalls were all there. 

The guests had been invited to come 
punctually at half- past seven, as the play 
began at eight, and dancing about ten or 
half-past, and no one was likely to be late. 

Chandos Neville and Kose had, by Doug- 
las's request, come in time to dine with him 
and Gabrielle, and, as before, they descended 
before any one arrived, and in fact entered 
the grand salon by one door as Lady Glen- 



2o6 The Ball — The Play. 

Luna and Hyacinth Lee came in by another, 
followed at the respectful length of their 
trains by Leicester Albany. The man 
almost started as his bold glance fell on his 
most beautiful wife, who looked simply 
superb in her graceful robe of white cash- 
mere and falling lace, with crimson sash 
and plain gold ornaments, and one white 
rose nestling amidst the rich, dark masses of 
her short, curling hair, — and a fierce thrill of 
jealousy shook him as Douglas said some- 
thing to her. Moving in haughty endurance 
amongst the roues with whom he had sur- 
rounded her, in all the rich panoply of 
gleaming satin and flashing jewels, she had 
never looked more beautiful than now. He 
felt a savage rush of triumph that, scorn 
him, shrink from his mere touch as she 
might, she must this night, if only in a 
play, only in her character of actress, tell 
him she loved him, and yield herself to the 
clasp of arms which to her was pollution. 
Jessie, tripping in all prettiness and blue 



The Ball— The Play. 207 

and cloudy white, would perhaps have 
hardly liked it if she could have read what 
was passing in his mind. Then came in 
Hyacinth, and her bright eyes were brighter 
still as she greeted Chandos Neville, and 
then Eose, and whispered enthusiastically 
to her, — 

" Doesn't Mrs Albany look exquisite ? — 
just like a picture ? " 

" She always does, my dear," answered 
Sister Eose, smiling. 

But now carriages were heard, and the 
guests arrived quickly from far and near — 
for no one had declined — and before eight 
the salon was well filled : Adeline never 
crowded her rooms. At ten minutes to 
eight the actors disappeared, and Miss 
Neville, with a smiling, " I shall shel- 
ter under your wing amongst so many 
strangers," took Gabrielle's vacated seat. 

But the moment Lady Glen-Luna gave 
the signal for the company to move to the 
theatre, Harford, who had waited near the 



2o8 The Ball— The Play, 

door, came quietly in and stood behind his 
master's chair till every one was seated, and 
then wheeled his chair up just behind the 
last row of seats, just near Miss Neville. 
Beyond that again stood the whole retinue 
of servants, for each salon opened into the 
other by a wide archway ; Harford, of course, 
quite en regie, stood near Douglas. 

In the midst of the lively buzz of tongues 
— and certainly Douglas kept those near 
him amused enough — and consulting of the 
dainty-scented programmes, the band struck 
up Boccherini's charming and quaint minuet 
for strings, and presently the bell tinkled, 
and up rolled the curtain discovering the 
first scene, and before it had gone far it did 
not need such a critical judgment as Glen- 
Luna's to see that Mrs Albany, despite the 
short notice she had had, not only knew her 
stage business well and was used to acting, 
but was de naturel an actress, more as the 
play went on, and all acted fairly well ; it 
was evident that she had the rare gift of 



The Ball — The Play. 209 

throwing her own power into others, and 
bringing out their best means — of forcing 
them nearer to her own level. Albany re- 
membered that power of hers of old, when 
quite in the earlier days of their marriage 
he had acted with her in private theatricals. 
His own first appearance with Jenkinson 
gained much applause ; but the interest of 
the audience became really thoroughly 
aroused by Olivia in the scene where her 
lover is trying, and only too successfully, 
to persuade her to fly with him. Was it 
only the bitter memory of such a similar 
scene in her own life that threw such an 
intensity of passion and pathos into her 
acting — such a reality into the look, at once 
so searching and so full of doubt, which she 
fixed on his face at his first words, " Nay, 
dearest Olivia ; these scruples betray a doubt 
of my affection and my honour " ? a look 
that made the man who had flung her away 
on a cast of the dice wince and shrink, 
brazen as he was. Who there, save him, 
VOL. II. • 



2 1 o The Ball — The Play. 

had the secret? Who there guessed the 
literal truth of the last two words of Thorn- 
hill's speech, "Think only of our future 
felicity. Come, Olivia ? " He threw one 
strong arm round the slight form, and drew 
her close to him, with a flash of cruel 
triumph in his black eyes, " My joy ! my 
pride ! m?/ wife I " 

" Eichard ! Richard ! my destiny is in 
your hands ! " 

And then she was hurried from the stage 
amidst a burst of applause. Douglas alone 
said nothing. There was a deep, strange 
sense of pain all through, which he could 
not shake off; a vague knowledge that it 
was all pain to her ; an impression — percep- 
tion rather — that purposely or not she had 
thrown a new reading into Olivia, an under- 
lying of doubt of Thornhill all through in 
the girl's mind, even when her heart yielded. 
She had not " gagged " in one word ; but it 
was in the intonation of the flexile voice, 
he wonderful facial action, the movement 



The Ball — The Play. 2 1 1 

that seemed to shrink — to shiver even 
when, wrapped by his arm, her head had 
dropped on his shoulder. How could 
Douglas guess how real that shiver had 
been ? 

Then the act-drop fell on the first act, 
and every one began talking ; and Lady 
Glen-Luna was complimented to the top 
of her bent on the excellence of her 
dramatic company and the "get-up" of 
the play. 

" Mr Brandon is capital, and so are Dr 
Neville and Miss Lee," said one lady, fan- 
ning herself; " and your friend, Mrs Albany, 
is simply exquisite ; isn't she. Miss Glen- 
Luna ? It is no wonder Thornhill should 
fall in love with such an Olivia." 

Which remark Jessie did not like. 

" I think she over-acted just a little," 
said she ; " don't you, Lady Saltoun ? " 

Lady Saltoun, who was a very good judge 
of acting, looked a little amused. 

" I'm afraid, my dear, I must entirely 



212 The Ball — The Play. 

differ with you. Mrs Albany's impersona- 
tion is superb. What is the next scene ? " 
glancing at her programme. " Winter 
Scene — Vicar's cottage after being burnt 
down. Ah, and after that the scene you 
have put in, Mr Glen-Luna." 

He bowed. 

"I am afraid, Lady Saltoun, that the 
scene left to itself would be disappoint- 
ing ; but I feel sure that wherever I have 
failed Mrs Albany will fill up the defi- 
ciency." 

"I don't think you will have left her 
much room or need for * gag,' " returned the 
lady, laughing ; ''I am all on the qui vive 
for the scene. I am glad you have refined 
Thornhill a little, as in Wills's charming 
Olivia, for in this version his brutal 
villainy and sudden repentance are too 
absurd." 

" So I thought. Lady Saltoun, and Mr 
Brandon quite follows my idea. He is 
really playing very well, though I think 



The Ball — The Play, 2 1 3 

Mrs Albany is to a great extent answerable 
for that." 

" I think so too. Ah, there is the curtain 
for this front scene. Poor Mrs Primrose, 
and what a lovely Sophia Miss Lee does 
make ! " 

" And," thought Douglas, " how very well 
Neville plays lover — better, I suspect, than 
Mamma Lee quite likes." The thought 
ended in a suppressed sigh, and a restless 
lift of the head that made watchful Harford, , 
standing behind him, stoop a little and 
whisper in German if he were tired and 
would like to move. 

" Nein, meinfreund,'^ and the bright smile 
reassured the faithful attendant. 

There was a general settling of expecta- 
tion and excitement when, after a rather 
longer wait than the others had been, the 
curtain rose, and discovered a handsome 
apartment in London, with Eichard Thorn- 
hill seated at a table, and Olivia, richly 
robed now, pacing to and fro. Douglas 



214 l^he Ball — The Play, 

lifted himself from his half recumbent atti- 
tude of languid indifference, almost startled 
by something he felt, rather than saw, in 
her face, or heard in the ring of her voice. 
You might, indeed, have heard a pin fall, or 
a breath drawn, in those few seconds before 
the actress broke the stillness. She is ask- 
ing that her father should be told that she 
is wedded ; it is half a prayer, half a 
demand. He looks into the beautiful face, 
and shakes his head, refusing her with words 
of endearment, with half-a-dozen plausible 
reasons why he cannot, dare not yet, ow^n 
her publicly. She stands for a moment 
gazing on him as if she could scarce have 
heard aright, and then she is kneeling at his 
feet, appealing to the '' love he has professed 
for her," pleading for justice, only common 
justice, with such anguish, such wild pathos, 
that the tears started to many an eye. 
Thornhill half covers his face with one hand, 
and puts the other out to draw her to him ; 
but still refuses, with some sign, as she 



The Ball — The Play, 2 1 5 

shrinks from his touch, of vexation and 
rising temper. Olivia springs to her feet, 
and, as he rises, quickly faces him with 
flashing eyes and haughty mien. She stoops 
no more to plead ; she tells him she will no 
longer break her father's heart by leaving 
him to believe her honour lost ; will no 
longer hear the whisper, the breath of 
shame, she feels in those about her even 
now ; swears that she will write home, or 
go herself, if he still refuses to do her 
justice, and turns to leave him. 

Breathless the audience watch as Thorn- 
hill steps forward in her path, and, with a 
cold, cruel sneer that is no acting in this 
man, tells her to learn the truth, and then 
leave him if she can or dare ; tells her that 
the priest was a sham, the marriage a 
mockery, and she, in all her proud beauty, 
only Richard Thornhill's mistress — not 
wedded wife. 

There is a dead pause ; this woman's act- 
ing all through has been so powerful, so 



2 1 6 The Ba II — The Play. 

terribly real, that it grows now almost too 
painful as they watch the awful change that 
comes into the beautiful, deathlike face, to 
which one hand is slowly lifted for a 
moment, as if this thunderbolt at her feet 
had dazed her senses ; dread, horror, agony, 
a hoarse whisper between the white lips. 

" Holy Heaven above ! it cannot be true 
— not wedded ! only your mistress ! " 

Then the scathing scorn and fierce passion 
and agony of the woman break forth like a 
wild torrent, before which the would-be 
betrayer shrinks, almost for a minute cowers 
(^liis is no acting in Leicester Albany), but 
still cannot resist yet another sneer, another 
bit of taunt. It is too much. With one fierce 
word, " Coward ! " on her lips, she lifts her 
clenched hand and strikes him once on the 
breast, no play blow, lacking in passion or 
force, strikes him with a passionate force that, 
prepared as he is, and powerful man as he is, 
he staggers slightly and gives back a step. 

" By Heaven ! Olivia, but I love thee 



The Ball — The Play. 2 1 7 

more madly than ever, and will not let thee 
escape me ! " 

But Olivia is too quick. As the blow is 
given she turns and flees, and the act-drop 
falls. A minute's pause, as if the audience 
were regaining breath, and then long and 
loud the applause broke forth with calls for 
Brandon and Mrs Albany. 

Douglas leaned back again as they came 
before the curtain, but he noticed how pale 
and even exhausted Gabrielle looked, though 
the chiselled lips were half smiling as she 
bent low to the enthusiastic audience, and 
retired, not before she had met Glen-Luna's 
glance with a deepening smile that reached 
the beautiful eyes this time. 

" Splendidly acted ! " exclaimed Sir Arthur, 
and Lady Saltoun asked aloud of Adeline, — 

" Didn't I hear some one say that some one 
— Mr Brandon, I think — was sure she is the 
same lady he heard recite at some charity 
affair in America some few years ago ? '' 

" I think it was," blandly answered 



2 1 8 The Ball— The Play. 

Adeline, delighted to find she had got hold 
in her house of a '' draw " so unexpectedly, 
and in no way afraid that any consideration of 
money would suffice to lure Gabrielle Albany 
from her charge of Douglas. * ' Perhaps, if that 
is so, we can get her to give us a recitation 
presently. Douglas will know, of course." 

" The curtain rose again on the Inn, where 
the Vicar finds his miserable daughter ; and 
the interest of the spectators was kept up till 
the fall, especially when Thornhill once more 
comes on the scene. Nor did the interest 
flag for one moment on to the end, when the 
curtain fell on the pretty tableau grouped on 
the stage. Then there came the enthusiastic 
applause and recalls of the principal artists. 

"But it is certainly that very clever, 
very handsome Mrs Albany who has carried 
it through so splendidly," whispered Lady 
Saltoun to Douglas Glen-Luna. 

So she had ; but even Douglas knew only 
the half of what had tried her so terribly in 
this play. 



CHAPTEE XVIII. 



THE BALL : A BUTTERFLY SINGES ITS WINGS. 




ND then came all the buzz of 
tongues, commenting, criticis^- 
ing, talking as the guests 
filtered into the centre salon or passed 
into the banqueting hall opposite, where 
refreshments were laid out. When the 
'* theatre company " made their reap- 
pearance in their own costumes de hal, 
Gabrielle Albany saw that Douglas was 
back again in the place where she had left 
him — near an open window — but it was 
some minutes before she could escape grace- 
fully the " lionising " that greeted her en- 
trance and gain his side. 



2 20 A Buttei^fly singes its Wiiigs. 

" Are you tired, mon ami, with having 
to sit out all that tiresome amateur acting 
of ours ? " 

" No ; they all did it well, especially 
Neville and Brandon ; you made them. I 
was only so pained, Gabrielle, because I 
knew — felt, how it tried you ; your acting 
was magnijique ! Eeal. I fancy you rather 
startled Brandon once or twice." 

She knew she had — who better ? — and 
drew a little back, w^ith a slight laugh and 
shrug of the shoulders. 

" Ma foi ! perhaps I did, but I could not 
help that, you know. Here they all come." 

A number of them ; Albany's deep voice 
bandying jest and compliments to Hyacinth, 
which made her laugh and colour, too, even 
while she saucily retorted, — 

" I think it was Mrs Albany who made 
us all do our best ; compliment your fair 
Olivia, Squire Thornhill, or her powerful 
acting." 

" Powerful, indeed ! " laughed Leicester, 



A BtUterfiy smges its Wings. 2 2 1 

turning with a bow to his beautiful wife. 
" You did not spare me, Mrs Albany ; it 
was no half-hearted touch, but a real hard 
blow, you gave me." 

She let her eyes meet his, and said 
lightly, with a half laugh that veiled to 
others — not him — the douhle entendre of 
her retort, — 

" You are quite strong enough to bear 
it, Mr Brandon. I do not think I suc- 
ceeded in hurting or wounding you veiy 
much." 

" Madam, I had rather only a blow from 
a fair hand than the heart stab from bright 
eyes." 

He avoided the glance of hers, and turned 
to Jessie, taking up her ball carte, as the 
band was now heard ; and there was a 
general brightening up and movement to 
claim or secure partners. 

" Mine, this at least, Miss Lee," said 
Chandos Neville, and the soft colour on 
her cheek deepened slightly, and the bright 



22 2 A Butterfly singes its Wings, 

eyes were brighter still as she gave him her 
hand. 

"Mrs Albany, you promised me the first 
and I don't know how many waltzes," said 
Percy Eosslyn eagerly. 

" Your inventive powers are large, Mr 
Eosslyn," said Grabrielle, smiling, "for I do 
not think I gave any promise at all, as I 
did not contemplate dancing." 

" Then," said Douglas very gravely, " the 
sooner you not only contemplate but enact 
it the better. I want to see you. I am 
certain you dance like a fairy, and Eosslyn 
used to be a good waltzer." 

" Not like you though, old fellow," said 
Percy. " You used to — " 

Gabrielle's hand clasped his arm ; Gab- 
rielle's rich tones interrupted him. 

'* Come, then ; they are all in the maze 
already." 

Glen-Luna's eyes followed that slight, 
white-robed form, which to him was all in 
the world, but the sigh was smothered back 



A Butterfly singes its Wings. 223 

on the heavy heart, while the handsome 
face and smiling lip turned to Lady Con- 
stance and Miss Neville, who came up — 
" their dancing days were done," they 
said. 

Lady Glen-Luna's, however, clearly were 
not, for she whirled past them with Sir 
George Saltoun ; dignified Lady Constance 
looked after them — met Douglas's amused 
and entirely comprehending smile, and 
answered it frankly. 

" Yes, of course, she is so very difierent' 
— quite exceptional. Her four or five-and- 
forty years are simply numerical, because 
she was born that number of years ago ! 
but she is so small and dainty and pretty, 
so ever bright and youthful, that to see her 
a wallflower would look quite as odd as 
to see me dancing. Ah, Sir Arthur," smil- 
ingly tapping the baronet with her fan as 
he came up. 

" Hum," said he, meaningly ; " I think 
* Sir Arthur ' is wanted indeed, when he 



2 24 ^ Butterfly singes its Wings. 

finds his wicked boy flirting with two such 
charming ladies." 

" So you have come to help me, father ; 
but I cannot resign either, even to you ! 
How voice and eyes spoke of the strong 
aff'ection that bound father and son ! What 
a wealth of love the sister and stepmother 
had trampled under foot. The thought 
crossed Eose Neville, and her glance went 
instinctively in search of Jessie and her 
swarthy partner, but she missed them 
from the throng of dancers ; so did one 
other, the man's wife, and the firm, delicate 
lips closed suddenly over the small white 
teeth. Great heavens ! did he dare to 
think that she would stand calmly by and 
basely suff'er him to betray the honour of 
the noble house that sheltered her, of the 
one man who held her very heart, to whom 
every tie of love and gratitude and duty 
bound her ? She might, perhaps, in her 
terrible, position, be forced to let it go on to 
the very last point for the sake of the one 



A Btttterfly singes its Wings. 225 

being whose whole future — ay, and life — 
depended on her. The retort that would 
brand her so cruelly, so falsely, she ab- 
solutely set at nought save for the effect it 
might, even must have on her position ; 
but she knew too well the desperate man 
with whom she was dealing, knew the not 
less desperate and ruthless character of the 
woman with whom she was silently warring 
— foresaw that eventually those two must 
draw together in one fearful interest* as 
inevitably as the needle is drawn by the 
magnet, and knew that when that time 
came the battle would be deadly indeed. 
What a miserable mockery the gay 
dance, music, and glittering crowd were 
to such a heavy heart as hers ! Escape 
she could not ; even to remain unnoticed 
and unsought was equally impossible. The 
consideration, the position, which the family 
accorded to Douglas Glen-Luna's secretary, 
her success as Olivia, and, above all, her 
own rare beauty and gifts, made her an 

VOL. II. p 



2 26 A Butterfly singes its Wings, 

object of attraction, the more so because, 
being already married, the men felt that 
they could flirt in safety ! and the mammas 
felt that she could not cross the paths of 
their daughters, practically, at any rate. 

Meanwhile Jessie had really turned a 
little giddy, and, true couquette, made the 
most of it. Albany drew her outside on to 
the terrace, still keeping his arm about her. 

" So are you better, little fairy ? " he half 
whispered, stooping to look into the blush- 
ing face, "the room got hot, and this is 
so cool, so lovely" — he was leading her 
past the windows, down into the gardens 
— '' especially with such a witch for a 
companion." 

" I wonder how many times you have 
said the same thing to others ? " laughed 
Jessie. " Please take me back to mamma, 
and " — with a pout — " keep your pretty 
speeches for more appreciative ears." 

" Cruel fairy ! for whom should Clifford 
Brandon keep them, save — " 



A Butterfly singes its Wings. 227 

*' Why, Hyacinth Lee, or handsome Mrs 
Albany," said Jessie, carelessly pulling a 
flower to pieces ; but Albany detected the 
jealous ring in her tone, and knew that with 
her the " game " was won. 

" I prefer jessamine to hyacinths in- 
finitely," said he coolly ; " and all Mrs 
Albany's beauty is as nought to me." 
Then, with an abrupt change of manner, 
he clasped her hands and bent down. 

" Jessie ! Jessie ! forgive me if I am too 
bold, have hoped too much, so much older 
than you as I am ; but you must have read 
— guessed — that I love you, that I have 
loved you from the hour I held you sense- 
less in my arms. Jessie, dearest, can you 
learn to love me ? " 

And, while the foolish, sentimental girl 
whispered that she loved him already, and 
listened to his vows, promising to keep all 
secret till he chose to speak to her parents, 
she little dreamed the dangerous ground on 
which she stood — little dreamed, poor fool, 



2 28 A Butterfly singes its Wings, 

that the only hand that could pluck her 
back from the gulf was that of her lover's 
VA^edded wife. 

The butterfly had singed its wings ; would 
it quite burn them ? 

When they re-entered the ballroom the 
band was playing the charming overture to 
" Guillaume Tell," while the guests pro- 
menaded or rested, chatted, and flirted. In 
such an interval Douglas was, of course, the 
centre of a group, but his quick eye, for all 
that, saw the pair re-enter as readily as he 
had missed them, and Neville, who was 
standing near him, laughing at Hyacinth's 
sallies, levelled right and left, and met by 
Glen-Luna's or Gabrielle's witty repartee 
noticed a slight, very slight, momentary 
shadow cross the broad, fine brow as Albany 
brought Jessie back to her mother, who had 
just come up, all smiles, of course, but with 
"request" in every line. 

"A petition," she cried gaily, "made by 
ever so many. Dear Mrs Albany, will you 



A Butterfly singes its Wings. 229 

be very goodnatured and give us a recita- 
tion ? You can't plead incapability after 
your acting Olivia as you did ; besides, even 
if Douglas won't betray you, Mr Brandon 
has let the cat out of the bag, for he says he 
is sure it is you he heard once in New York 
recite for a charity." 

" And Mrs Albany is not easily mistaken," 
Leicester added, with a low bow that made 
the remark a compliment. 

The haughty woman to whom his feigned 
homage was only insult, and she well knew 
meant insolence, seemed not even to have 
heard him, but answered Adeline, — 

" I fear, Lady Glen-Luna, that I should 
disappoint you all, for, except for Mr Glen- 
Luna, I have not recited for two or three 
years." 

There was a murmur of protest, and Sir 
Arthur exclaimed, — 

*' Do your best, my dear, if it is not ask- 
ing too much ; and if we're not pleased, I'm 
sure it will be our fault alone ! " 



230 A Butterfly singes its Wings. 

"You are very kind to put it so, Sir 
Arthur. Well, I will do my best." 

She drew off her gloves, handed them 
with her bouquet to Douglas in a quiet, 
matter-of-course way, as if he had been her 
brother, and drew back to the centre of the 
spacious salon, all grace, ease, perfect self- 
possession, not a shadow of self-conscious- 
ness in one look or movement. So beyond 
measure beautiful, standing there literally, 
as she did metaphorically, alone before them 
all, that for a minute a rush of intolerable 
pain went through the heart of the man 
who loved her so deeply, so without even 
the right of hope. Then her rich, ever 
pathetic voice broke the hush of expectation. 

" What shall it be ? Grave or gay, 
tragedy or comedy ? " 

" Oh, comedy, please, Mrs Albany ; make 
us laugh." 

''Eh hien, then I will give you Mark 
Twain's inimitable 'Buck Fanshaw's Funeral'" 

She began, and in a very few moments 



A Bzitterfly singes its Wings. 231 

ripples of suppressed laughter ran along 
from lip to lip like a wave ; it might have 
been the very men themselves speaking, so 
perfect was the reader's adoption of each 
character. The dainty, refined, highflown 
phrases of the educated minister tripped oif 
her tongue in irresistibly amusing contrast 
to the strong, rougher, broader American 
accent, and ceaseless flow of out-west slanof. 
More than once the outburst of laughter com- 
pelled a moment's pause, and one lady ^f 
high rank whispered to Lady Glen-Luna, — 

" It sounds positively absurd to hear all 
that queer slang from that delicate, high- 
bred woman. I don't suppose she half 
knows the English of it all more than we do." 

" Indeed, she can tell us every word, my 
dear marchioness ; she has been in Cali- 
fornia, and the other States too. And, if 
she could not, Douglas could, for he has 
been all over those regions." 

*' Indeed ! well, they must get on well, 
then. What a memory she has ! " 



232 A Butterfly singes its Wings. 

The piece fairly brought down the house, 
and the moment Gabrielle moved there was 
but one outcry from the throng that made 
her pause. 

" Something else, please ! don't stop 
yet ! " and the Marchioness of Danvers 
said courteously, — 

'' If you know it, Mrs Albany, I should 
so like to hear a little fugitive piece, not 
much known perhaps, of Mrs Barrett Brown- 
ing's, called 'A Woman's Question.'" 

Gabrielle's dark eyes flashed as she bowed ; 
right in a line before her stood her false 
husband beside Jessie Glen-Luna ; did she 
know he winced under her glance — felt, too, 
almost afraid of herself lest all her own 
passionate intensity of feeling should speak 
too forcibly in the words she uttered even 
in the very first verse ? 

" Do you know that you have asked for the 
costliest thing 
Ever made by hand above, 
A woman's heart, and a woman's life, 
And a woman's wonderful love % " 



A Butterfly singes its Wings, 233 

The tall form was so directly in the re- 
citer s line of vision that it was only natural 
those dark eyes should rest on it ; the words 
seemed — to him, at any rate — to be ad- 
dressed to him, consciously or not ; and 
yet he could not move, dared not. Was it 
not to him, and him alone — so guilt read 
it — that the woman he had so wronged 
spoke when she came to the lines, — 

*' Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul, 
Until I shall question tliee % " 

and, with a half step forwards and sternly 
pointing hand, met and bore down his gaze, 
which, all shrinking as it was, yet impelled 
by her very force to gaze again, with the 
red blood mounting slowly to his swarthy 
cheek, under the terrible irony that he felt, 
like cold steel, through all the passion and 
pathos with which she especially gave the 
last three verses, — 

*' Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep 
I may launch my all on its tide % 

VOL. II. Q 



234 ^ Butterfly singes its Wings. 

A loving woman finds heaven or hell 
The day she is made a bride. 

I require all things that are grand and true, 
All things that a man should be ; 
If you give this all, I would stake my life 
To be all you demand of me. 

If you cannot do this, a laundress and cook 
You can hire, with little to pay ; 
But a woman's heart and a woman's life 
Are not to be won that way." 

The slender hands dropped, the firm lips 
closed, the flush died out of the now colour- 
less, statuesque face ; back to their depths, 
once more suppressed under an iron will, 
swept the agony and volcano fires of the 
woman's soul that for a few moments had 
found some vent ; and, as amidst the 
applause she drew back to Douglas's side, 
there came over the man who had made 
such a wreck — ay, such a hell — of her life 
a dim, vague sense of something he had 
lost out of his life — something grand and 
beautiful — but far beyond him, which that 
man held by whom she stood. 



A Butterfly singes its Wings. 235 

And with that dim sense came a deeper, 
fiercer hatred and fear of the wife he had 
wronged, and the man who had saved his 
dastard life at the loss of more than life 
to himself. 



END OF VOL. II. 



COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



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